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28 November 2016

The passion and dedication of Grayshott Cricket Club’s volunteer groundsman Paul Roberts has been recognised at this year’s Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Industry Awards as Paul has won the SISGrass Unsung Hero 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 Paul by SIS Pitches’ managing director Bryn Lee, in front of an audience of more than 640 of the UK’s and Europe’s leading groundscare experts, as well as dignitaries from the governing bodies of sport and influential sports administrators.

Paul took over the care of the village cricket ground six years ago and, after attending a few cricket-related ground preparation courses, set about improving the square, outfield and surrounding area – to such an extent that the ground is well-known as being of a high standard.

Perhaps a measure of this success is the fact that more than 80 games have been played on it during the past two years. And Paul says that to see this level of enjoyment provided to so many people – the club runs four adult and 12 junior teams – is very rewarding and it’s why he volunteered in the first place!

He undertakes all the pitch maintenance routines including cutting, rolling, marking and watering, as well as providing treatments of fertilisers and iron. He also manages the end-of-season renovations and looks after two artificial strips, all the while keeping a tight rein on the purse strings.

Paul has this year also overseen work at the club’s second ground at Broxhead Common in Lindford.

Wearing other hats, he has for the last 11 years been chairman of the club, which now boasts 200 junior members and 35 adult members, and he runs the clubhouse bar on every other weekend. He also umpires and represents the club at various meetings – and says he also somehow manages to find time to go to work!

Paul contested the award with Adam Witchell of Forest Green Rovers FC, Gloucestershire.

Organised by the IOG – the leading membership organisation for everyone involved in the management of sports pitches, landscape and amenity facilities – the prestigious UK-wide IOG 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, says: “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 against such stiff competition is testament to the dedication of the grounds teams and individuals whose ability to produce and maintain ever-improving playing surfaces – which, in turn, also enables more games to take place – goes largely unnoticed.”

With headline sponsorship by Rigby Taylor and Top Green, the 2016 IOG Industry Awards are also sponsored by the AELTC, Countrywide, DESSO® GrassMaster®, DLF, ECB, The FA, Headland Amenity, John Deere, Johnsons Seeds, Kubota, the LTA, Mansfield Sand, the Premier League, the RFL, the RFU, Ransomes, Redexim Charterhouse, SGL, SISGrass, Souters Sports, Sport England, STIHL, Toro and Trimax.

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