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Whisper Twister on twice daily school run

Whisper Twister on twice daily school run: Since taking delivery of a Wiedenmann Whisper Twister in October last year, Chris Lynch, Grounds Manager at John Lyon School, Harrow-on the-Hill and his team have coined their own twice daily school run.

Their site, at Sudbury Fields in North West London, has five full size football pitches, three junior size pitches, 4 training zones and three cricket squares. On any given afternoon up to 150 pupils and PE staff from the independent day school, as well as outside lettings, make full use of the playing facilities.

Whisper Twister on  twice daily school run

Whisper Twister on twice daily school run

Every morning, with clean tractor tyres, one of the team takes their new blower over their Olympic-sized sand dressed hockey pitch, clearing debris and leaves. Then, switching to the natural turf of the football pitches and cricket outfields, they then take on the 2500m tree lined surroundings of the playing fields, to clear more debris and leaves.

“Most people assume that Autumn is the only time we suffer with excess debris, but you’d be surprised at the volumes we still need to clear over the whole year” said Chris Lynch. “We’re an exposed site and on occasion, where there’s abnormal amounts of wind, like the storms in mid-March with gusts to 60mph, we could easily spend nearly two days clearing up, but the whisper twister saves a significant amount of time in the process.”

“Clean tyres are essential when working on the MUGA, so you don’t bring anything from the fields onto the carpet to contaminate the infill.” continued Chris. “The work the blower does on the hockey pitch keeps it free of debris which is the key factor in keeping the drainage of the pitch working to a high standard and making the carpet as presentable as possible.”

“The work to the natural turf is also an essential part of the overall maintenance and care of the pitches. Where possible, you should always avoid leaving leaves or any other kind of debris on the surface. This will cause the soil to retain more moisture, causing extra movement of worms which prefer moving through wet soil trying to feed on the leaves leading to increased casting. By clearing a pitch, you will also help keep as much natural light going to the grass plant as possible and help the overall drainage and presentation.”

“From a Health & Safety standpoint, the Whisper Twister and its capacity to swivel 180° means the machine works for us and not the other way around.  Take our longest tree stretch at over 400m. Our previous blower in a fixed position meant that to operator often had to twist their body to see where they were going but with the hydraulic swivel feature of the Whisper Twister, this means the driver can operate the machine in a natural position most of the time. The blower is also excellent for working into those hard to reach areas we used to have to do by hand.”

Chris and his team are however using their Whisper Twister for lots of other maintenance tasks including car parks, school lawns and helping to blow off dead grass after raking the natural pitches working perfectly alongside the Wiedenmann Super 500 to present their pitches tidily ahead of fixtures.

Area Sales Manager, Grant Buckingham, from Wiedenmann UK dealer, Ernest Doe & Sons, at Esher, who supplied the machine, said: “The Whisper Twister has 200 m³ per minute of blow.  All that puff makes a significant impact to collecting and efficient work management. Chris chose the optional goose neck spout, so the wind nozzles can be set parallel to the floor. Tractors with just one double-spool valve can operate the “left to right” swivel action hydraulically and the “up and down” motion via an electric ram, thus not requiring a second hydraulic service which is not always standard. Chris and the team can also direct the outlet spout to a variety of angles depending on the conditions.”

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Updating events to be run online

Updating events to be run online: At the start of each year the Amenity Forum run a series of free updating events for all involved or with an interest in amenity management.

These normally take place at venues across the UK and have been very well received. Given the current restrictions, opportunity to run these in the traditional way has been lost but the Forum are going ahead with them but online. The same technology will be used as for the Forum’s very successful conference held in October.

Updating events to be run online

Updating events to be run online

The format will be very similar to normal, with the programme starting at 10.15 and concluding by 12.30pm. There will be opportunity for questions and all the current issues will be covered. 2021 sees the UK fully depart from the EEU bringing with its new regulations on plant protection products. The UK is also issuing a new national action plan relating to amenity management in 2021. Just these two items present challenges and opportunities. The events also give opportunity to catch up on new developments and innovations and what is required to meet the Amenity Standard, set to become a requirement in future.

Whilst the content of each event will be broadly the same, each will have a particular nation focus. The dates are given below, and each event is free to attend but pre-registration is required. If you would like to register or receive further information, please contact admin@amenityforum.net Full programmes for each event will be available early in 2021.

February 9th            England

February 11th      Wales

February 23rd         England

February 25th     Northern Ireland

March 4th             Scotland

Professor John Moverley OBE, Independent Chairman of the Forum, said ‘As I often say, what happens in amenity management impacts upon every UK citizen every day seeking to provide safe and healthy spaces fit for purpose. The importance of this has never been more apparent in the last year. Our Updating events are always popular and relevant, but this year is set to be more than ever. There is much change around and how we address this will be vital’

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STIHL waters run deep

STIHL waters run deep: It was there from about 20 minutes into the journey and I couldn’t shift it, not that in all honesty I really wanted it to leave. 

The musical piece which had infiltrated my brain is a tune called “Pop Looks Bach” but it is better known as the theme tune for “Ski Sunday” and the reason that it had become my latest earworm was that we were heading into the Alps, or more accurately the Tyrolian section of the Alps, not far over the German border into Austria.

STIHL waters run deep

And the reason our group, comprising of trade journalists, gardening writers from the national press and our hosts, were traveling to this hotbed of Alpine sports was, ironically, to visit a factory which produces lawnmowers and related outdoor ground maintenance equipment.

STIHL is a name renowned the world over. It is synonymous with high quality grounds care equipment whether it be chainsaws, leaf blowers, and more recently professional and domestic ride on or pedestrian mowing equipment.

But not only is it one of the best known names in the world it is also a company which has manufacturing bases all over the world too.

We were being taken to Kufstein, in the Austrian Tyrol, which had originally been home to the Viking company, but which had been bought by STIHL in 1992 and whose name was integrated into the STIHL brand just last year.

Viking’s first product was a domestic shredder in 1981, but it wasn’t until 1984 that they began producing 1984 that they began producing their own line of lawn mowers and it that those products, something which STIHL saw as squaring the circle and allowing them to offer a full portfolio of garden and landscape maintenance equipment, that brought about the union between the two.

With backdrops of snow covered peaks the factory, which has grown from 20,000 square metres to 43,000 square metres in recent times and increased staffing levels from 373 in 2015 to 650 now, is at the cutting edge of technology. So much so that we weren’t allowed to photograph any of the work going on inside.

STIHL waters run deep

The company takes particular pride in its staff who jokingly admit that, such is the length of time that most employees remain at the company, the probationary period is 10 years.

The sheer scale of the production facility at Kufstein is such that a tour of the factory takes over two hours, more if you spend longer than the allotted time watching, for example, the stress tests that every element of a machine must survive – something it was good to see the unique mono handle bars on the mowers dealing with it with considerable aplomb Suffice to say, the recently installed robotic parts’ picker proved to be extremely mesmeric and some of us had to be dragged away.

The man who is now a brand name as much as a family name – up there with the likes of (Henry) Ford; (Enzo) Ferrari; (Willian Henry) Hoover; (Walt) Disney; (Gianni) Versace and (Ronald) MacDonald – is Andreas Stihl.

Andreas was an engineer and a Swiss national, and he designed and hand built the first chainsaw back in 1926.

Andreas was onto a winner and the STIHL name soon became popular, and also synonymous with professional grade chainsaws and soon became the number-one selling chainsaw company in the world, a title that the company can still boast.

Company headquarters is in Waiblingen, Germany but has assembly facilities spread across the world in Brazil, China, Switzerland and the United States in addition to the plant in Kufstein and a sales and marketing base in Camberley, Surrey,

Now the company boasts a product range that cannot disappoint any amateur gardener or professional turf or estates manager.

Power tools (cordless, gasoline, or electric) – chainsaws, pruners, brushcutters, shredders, scarifiers, tillers, sweepers, blowers, sprayers pressure washers, pedestrian mowers, ride on mowers, hand tools and forestry accessories, Personal Protective Equipment and more recently, some superb imow robot mowers, the technology for which is growing at a pace.

STIHL waters run deep

The staff, who are blessed with the finest “views out the window” to be found anywhere in the world, are universally keen to explain and demonstrate their products.

Some, if you are lucky, are even happy to share their chocolate with groups of journalists!

What is evident is that the care shown in assembling a machine is matched by the care shown in ensuring that part has been added just as it should and that it is ready to move on to the next stage of production.

Our group of 25 was treated royally during the two days of the trip. We ate and, purely in the interests of not being reluctant guests, drank well at our wonderful hotel and two unforgettable restaurants, including the oldest restaurant in the whole of Austria.

We also took in a traditional Christmas market and the Riedel glass factory – another world renowned company in what is a relatively small Austrian town – where we watched some of the finest wine glasses in the world being produced – four highly trained people to make one glass!

With an unexpected additional cargo of wine glass, it made the flight home rather anxious for some of our party.

It was a superb, and informative, trip and a big thank you to everyone at STIHL, and HROC, for making it such a rewarding visit for us all.

I can also add that despite the surroundings no skis, nor indeed lederhosen, were donned during the trip but that earworm is still there and beginning to become a little tiresome.

Emma’s Marathon Run

Emma’s Marathon Run: Having beaten three types of cancer, Emma Kilby, Technical Area Sales Manager for ICL, is taking part in the 2018 London Marathon in a bid to raise funds for Children with Cancer UK.

Emma was just 16 years old when she was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After 6 months of chemotherapy followed by 20 days of radiotherapy, she defeated this dreadful disease. She went on to finish her studies at university, got married and gave birth to her first daughter in 2010.

Emma's Marathon Run

However, just before her daughter’s first birthday Emma noticed another lump in her neck. After numerous visits to the GP and many hospital appointments, she was diagnosed with differentiated papillary thyroid carcinoma. Her battle with cancer had started all over again and she underwent a total thyroidectomy and neck dissection (removal of 27 lymph nodes).

Six weeks after surgery, she was told that not only did she have thyroid cancer but also an aggressive form of large B-cell lymphoma. Having to deal with one form of cancer would be enough for anyone but having to deal with it all over again while also trying to raise a young family was almost too much to bare. After a long and difficult battle, enduring months of operations, chemotherapy and radioactive iodine, she pulled through.

Less than 12 months ago she gave birth to another beautiful baby girl after being told that she may never have anymore. Slowly but surely she has pieced her life back together.

“Having cancer as an adult is hard enough to deal with; we have the ability to comprehend and rationalise what we may ultimately have to deal with,” says Emma. “The thought of any parent having to explain to their diagnosed children the nature of this horrible disease breaks my heart just to think about it. This is why I decided that I was going to run the Virgin London Marathon for the Children with Cancer UK charity, and maybe, just maybe, my contribution can lead to the prevention of the needless suffering that so many young children have to deal with on a daily basis.”

Almost 4,000 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK. That’s ten every day. Children with Cancer UK is the leading national children’s charity dedicated to the fight against childhood cancer. They fund life-saving research into the causes, prevention and treatment of childhood cancer and they work to protect young lives through essential welfare programmes.

Emma added: “Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I hope you will help me raise money for this great charity.”

To make a donation to Emma’s worthy cause please visit –  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/emma-kilby

Please contact ICL on 01473 237100 or visit www.icl-sf.co.uk or www.icl-sf.ie if you are in Ireland.

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