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Birmingham volunteer groundsman wins major award for dedication and expertise

The expertise and dedication of Philip Swan, volunteer groundsman at the Bridge Trust Society’s sports fields in Birmingham, has been recognised by this year’s Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Industry Awards with Philip collecting the Redexim Charterhouse/Kubota Volunteer Sports Groundsman of the Year Award.

In a prestigious ceremony at the National Conference Centre, within the National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham hosted by talkSPORT radio presenter Mark Saggers, the award was presented to Philip by Curtis Allen, Redexim Charterhouse’s business development manager, and Andy Southerton, Kubota’s dealer manager, groundscare, in front of an audience of almost 700 of the UK’s and Europe’s leading groundscare experts, as well as dignitaries from the governing bodies of sport and influential sports administrators.

The Bridge Trust Society’s 7.5-acre sports ground is unique, says Philip, because it is triangular in shape and bounded on all sides by railway lines, with access via a private level crossing.

Philip took over as groundsman seven years ago, with “another equally inexperienced volunteer”. Since then, whenever a member of the club retires, they are recruited to join Philip’s team – which currently numbers six and all with varying levels of experience.

Led by Philip, the team is charged with the upkeep of the right of way and the maintenance of the clubhouse, two pavilions, the score box and a garage, in addition to two football pitches, a cricket square and nets plus two five-a-side training pitches.

Organised by the IOG – the leading membership organisation for everyone involved in the management of sports pitches, landscape and amenity facilities – the annual awards embrace categories of entry covering sport, young people and the environment.

The awards highlight the high standards of volunteer and professional groundsmanship, from grassroots to professional stadia level. They are judged by an independent panel on criteria that include effective use of resources, budgetary control, presentation and housekeeping standards, as well as environmental considerations.

Commenting on the high standard of award winners, IOG chief executive Geoff Webb, said: “With a record number of entries, this year’s awards continue to demonstrate the skills and passion of groundsmanship throughout the UK, at both voluntary and professional level.

“Winning an award is testament to the dedication of the grounds teams and individuals whose ability to produce and maintain ever-improving playing surfaces – which enables more games to take place – goes largely unnoticed.”

With headline sponsorship by Rigby Taylor and Top Green, the 2017 IOG Industry Awards are also sponsored by the AELTC, CubCadet Infinicut, DLF, ECB, The FA, GrassMaster, Growth Products, Headland Amenity, John Deere, Johnsons Seeds, Kubota, the LTA, Mansfield Sand, the Premier League, Ransomes, Redexim Charterhouse, the RFL, the RFU, Rigby Taylor, SGL, SISGrass, Toro and Top Green.

Visit www.iog.org/awards for more details.

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