Ian Card is Head of Grounds and Security at Ardingly College, an independent, mixed school set in a beautiful 230-acre campus in the West Sussex countryside. In 2014, having previously worked at the college under another Head Groundsman, Ian returned to Ardingly, bringing with him his 20 years of agronomy experience. He now leads a skilled team of nine, maintaining the grounds, gardens and sports pitches.
Football is the dominant winter sport played at Ardingly College, unlike many private schools that traditionally play rugby as the first choice game. Still, the oval ball has its place alongside football, cricket, hockey, athletics and tennis (to name a few), with Ian’s team maintaining twelve grass pitches, three squares and two all-weather artificial turf pitches.
As is expected for a fee-paying school, the standards of all facilities must be maintained to an exemplary level and Ardingly College more than fulfils this remit. The pitches are pounded seven days a week by the school’s 400+ students, and in the past have been used as training centres for England U21s, England Ladies, Crawley Town FC plus Bunbury’s Cricket matches. Therefore, the amount of use and the high quality playing surfaces expected of the grounds certainly keep Ian and his team on their toes.
The finishing touch and stand out feature of any sports pitch is the white line presentation. This school year saw Ardingly become a customer for Bristol-based sports paint supplier, Pitchmark. With a growing portfolio of independent schools across the UK, Pitchmark’s user-friendly Eco System appealed to Ian and his staff, as he explained: “I like the marking machine. It’s very simple and easy to operate and has a nice user-friendly feel to it.”
Ian continued: “Customer service is crucial in any of my purchasing. Pitchmark’s assistance before and after I became a customer has been excellent. One of their reps, Olly (Boys), comes to see me and the team, and we chat through how the paint and machine are performing and my general feedback. It’s something that was being overlooked with a previous supplier – good, friendly customer service.”
Pitchmark have been supplying Ardingly College with their ready-to-use paint Ecoline+ for nine months so far and this is having a positive effect on work efficiency. “The no mixing is very convenient. My guys don’t have to spend down-time mixing and getting messy. The product quality and finish is consistent as it’s the same every time you mark. It allows us to spend more time on other tasks to raise the standards further.”
“Sometimes, the paint can be too good,” he said, jokingly. “We swap some football fields to rugby every January and I could still see the old lines weeks after.” Well, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Thanks to Ian for his time.