The Northumberland Football Association, in conjunction with a pilot group of partner clubs and leagues, has developed a social enterprise initiative to support pitch maintenance across the county with the help of associates including John Deere dealer Greenlay Ltd of Cramlington
Supported by funding from the Football Foundation, with further assistance from Northumberland County Council's Social Enterprise team, the programme will see the grassroots club and league sites working in partnership with local authorities to support improvements to pitches and training facilities throughout the region. As part of the initiative, a range of new grounds maintenance equipment was bought from two local companies, to assist those working at a local level with limited resources.
Greenlay supplied seven John Deere X750 lawn tractors, a 3045R compact tractor and an XUV 855D Gator utility vehicle, while Rickerby Ltd of Hexham supplied trailers and an Imants Shockwave decompactor from Campey Turf Care Systems. Following the purchase, Greenlay's operations manager Mark Thrumble carried out installation training on the John Deere machines for all the volunteers that will be using them.
"This project is a first across the country and sees Northumberland FA and its partners working in conjunction to provide innovative solutions to existing issues," says Northumberland FA county development manager Mark Woodhall. "Each hub will look slightly different and will meet the needs of the local area. Where possible, they will provide a bespoke supplementary service for a number of clubs in the short term, with the long term view of assisting further satellite sites over the coming months.
"The project was also keen to ensure that any funding received was reinvested and kept within the local area. Both Greenlay and Rickerby have been extremely supportive and helpful in getting the idea off the ground, and have provided advice and guidance at every stage as and when required."
For more information, visit www.deere.co.uk.