School groundsman talks about role: Lewis Pattinson, the head groundsman at Bradford Grammar School, has spoken of his pride at looking after the grounds at the school.
He said: “It’s not just a job, it’s a way of life.”
He tell us what his job is like and how he loves being a groundsman:
“I’ve worked here for five months and I manage the daily work activities of the Estates Department to ensure that the grounds, pitches and gardens are maintained and kept in good condition. I’m an award-winning Groundsman having won the Institute of Groundsmanship Young Groundsman of the Year in 2016. Before joining BGS, I worked as Deputy Head Groundsman at London Stadium for two years which is home to West Ham United Football Club.
“When I first saw the school grounds, I thought ‘what a fantastic challenge!’ They were good, but I wanted the standard to be excellent – just like the ethos of BGS. This value was instilled in me from a young age when I set up my own gardening company at 14 years old. I only got paid £5 a week pocket money, so I wanted to feel more independent.
“I cut everyone’s garden on the street and my next-door neighbour asked if I’d like to go and work for him as an apprentice Greenkeeper on his private golf course. He could see how passionate and interested I was. I suppose I already embodied BGS’s ‘Hoc Age – Get on and do it’ attitude from an early age, an attitude I see reflected everyday in our pupils and staff across 28 beautiful acres.
“One of my biggest achievements so far has been to put in place a new fertiliser programme using feedback from an Agronomist, who’s knowledgeable in turf grasses and their management. They provided useful practical advice as well as an overall assessment of the condition of the current BGS sport grounds. Going back to basics in this way allows us to track, maintain and achieve better results for our outstanding new £4m sport facilities that includes new cricket lanes, netball and tennis courts and astro-turfed hockey pitches as well as our all-weather sports barn.
“The sports barn and hockey pitches are world class, so I’ve invested in new machinery to maintain these and all the new pitches, inside and out. It’s all about continuous, top-level maintenance and care, to provide the best experience for pupils, staff and the wider community. Small details also have a big impact. For example, I’ve changed all the rugby posts. These used to be pulled out of the ground using a lorry, which over time can cause wear and tear on the turf. These have been replaced with new aluminium hinged rugby posts which are much better for long term use and the wider environment.
“I’ve worked professionally on many sports, ranging from Rugby League, Rugby Union, Football, Athletics and Major League Baseball. It’s not just a job, it’s a way of life. Nobody really goes to school and says: ‘I want to be a Groundsman’. People tend to naturally fall into it through other passions, myself included. I’ve spoken to many top Groundsmen who were professional footballers coming through the ranks. When they didn’t get taken on, they realised they still wanted to be involved in the sporting environment and ended up working in stadiums.
“I absolutely love working in a school after a large stadium. The environment is warm, intimate and I feel extremely valued and looked after here. From 14 years of age I knew this was my calling and now I can concentrate all my efforts on this fabulous school.”
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