The grounds team at Yeovil Recreation Centre have struck gold, winning two awards in the Grounds Management Association Industry Awards 2022
After reaching the finals in 2019, the team have smashed it this year winning not only one, but two categories in the Grounds Management Association Industry awards.
The grounds team have worked tirelessly around the clock to effectively manage the pitches and wider facility whilst also implementing a number of biodiversity and conservation initiatives. Winning them both 'Sports & Turf Best Environmental and Sustainability Impact Award' and 'Best Managed Artificial Surfaces of the Year Award'.
The team of five groundsman at Yeovil Recreation Centre are on hand seven days a week and are responsible for the maintenance across the 37-acre site including three full size adult and three youth sized football pitches, a Track Mark accredited athletics arena, an artificial grass pitch which is scaled to a full size national standard hockey pitch, two tennis courts, a nine hole pitch and putt & a mini golf course. The team also makes sure the wider greenspace is safe, accessible and brings broader environmental & ecological benefits.
The grounds team monitor and maintain the Artificial Grass Pitch (AGP) playing surface on a day to day and week to week basis. This includes keeping the main surface safe through repairs and weekly rolling to flatten the base of the pitch, managing it to England Hockey standards. The team also carry out essential cleaning and safety checks on playing equipment, hockey and football goals.
Their planned approach to long term maintenance has ensured a high quality and long life to the playing surfaces at Yeovil Recreation Centre. So much so that the AGP has already seen thousands of hours use in the ten years since it has opened, and will look to be available for high standard use for another ten years. The schedule and diligence of work, ensures best value for money, making sure the pitch exceeds the usual expected lifespan of 15 years.
The team have worked tirelessly to deliver works to transform Yeovil Recreation Centre into an environmentally friendly site. Somewhere that supports biodiversity and wildlife and decreases the impact of the intensively managed sports surfaces, whilst continuing to offer high-quality sporting facilities. They have worked closely with the SSDC Environment team and taken advice from SSDC Countryside rangers to ensure best practice is followed.
The team have trialled a range of products and approaches and adopted those that work best for the site such as tree planting, erecting wildlife boxes, creating wildflower banks, implementing no mow areas in the golf course, using electric power tools and making a move away from traditional fertilisers and herbicides to natural seaweed based products.
Sustainable land management techniques help encourage wildlife within the formal sports environment such as Sinus grassland management around the golf course and using sustainable weed suppression to reduce herbicide use and chemical fertilisers, all dog friendly of course to accommodate the hundreds of dog walkers that attend site every day.
The team have experimented with plenty of ways to make Yeovil Recreation Centre sustainable and have since adopted water recycling and irrigation which has led to 20,000 litres of water being reused across the site and tree planting which has introduced 2,500 trees to the park of different varieties including oak, alder, maple, birch and hazel, just to name a few!
The first electric mower arrived in May paving the way for more to come as the current equipment on site is being switched to electric. A biofuel (HVO) tank has also been installed to aid the transition away from fossil-fuels which gives of 90% less CO2 emissions.
With the introduction of bird, bat and owl boxes and bug hotels wildlife is being encouraged to the site and we have had sightings of deer, partridges, a wide variety of winged pollinators, and possibly even lizards down in the athletics arena.
It is important that Yeovil Recreation Centre provides great sporting surfaces, facilities, and spaces for all, to encourage wellbeing for visitors, whilst also doing what is possible to protect our environment, minimise our impact and giving space for people and wildlife to coexist. The team are all quite proud to have beaten the multi million pound Leicester City Football club in the sustainability category, a rather David and Goliath affair!
The Grounds Management Association Industry is the leading professional organisation for grounds management recognised by the National Governing Bodies of Sport. Awarding public, private and voluntary sectors for its industry knowledge, technical expertise, quality surfaces and services.
Leisure Portfolio Holder, Mike Best, shares his thanks with the team, “These awards were well deserved. The team should be proud to be able to deliver such an excellent quality of facility to our communities. Yeovil Recreation Centre is used year-round by all ages, families and community groups and is a great hub for health and wellbeing. To be able to manage and upkeep the facilities is an achievement to all involved. Thank you for your hard work.”
Sarah Dyke, Environment Portfolio Holder, says “It’s a great achievement to be recognised at a national level for the work at Yeovil Recreation Centre. We are proud to lead by example and I hope other community groups, organisations and grounds teams will be inspired to follow our lead.”
A case study write up about the Grounds teams efforts can be found at Community Case Studies | South Somerset Environment
In 2019 South Somerset District Council recognised the climate emergency and the changes to the management of Yeovil Recreation Centre have been made in direct response to SSDC’s Environment Strategy to help SSDC become more environmentally friendly and net carbon neutral by 2030.
Pictured above: Jamie Pippard, Quentin Coleman, Rodney Pippard and Callum Hanson.