Following consultation between awards organisers BIGGA and sponsors Toro and Reesink UK, the 2020 edition of the Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year Awards has been postponed.
Applications for the prestigious awards had opened in March, but the escalation of the coronavirus pandemic means that it is no longer safe or practical for the contest to take place.
Barry Beckett, senior marketing manager at The Toro Company, said: "It is with the greatest regret that the 2020 competition is postponed. We know how disappointing this will be for those who have already entered or were planning on entering this year. However, our number one priority is the health and wellbeing of all those involved in the awards and with the uncertainty we currently face, we cannot proceed with the event."
BIGGA, Toro and Reesink UK express their apologies to all those who have already entered, but with the competition deadline for entries fast approaching, a firm decision had to be made.
David Cole, managing director at Reesink UK, said: "These are unprecedented times and while we very much hope the situation in the UK will have improved drastically by the time the regional interviews were scheduled to take place, we have to react according to the Government's advice that stands now, restricting all unnecessary travel and contact.
"For 31 years the Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year Awards have supported the brightest upcoming professionals in the UK's greenkeeping industry. While this is a blow for everyone involved, as with so many events being postponed and cancelled, it is the right thing to do and means the 32nd Student Greenkeeper of the Year Awards will be even more valued."
All those who have entered the 2020 competition will automatically be put forward for the 2021 awards. Nominees who are 21 and have their birthday before the next application stage can choose whether they would like to stay in the Young Student Greenkeeper category or move up to the main award.
Jim Croxton, chief executive of BIGGA, added: "Obviously, this is disappointing news for the competitors. However, the decision is absolutely appropriate in these unprecedented times and the safety of our members is always at the forefront of our thoughts. The Toro Student and Young Student Greenkeeper of the Year Awards are one of the highlights of the year for the association, allowing our upcoming members the opportunity to showcase their talents.
"BIGGA's Learning and Development team is available to discuss any questions from those who have applied or were thinking of applying regarding the awards, which we are confident will return for 2021."