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No Mow May? Or mix up the monocrop lawn?

No Mow May? Or mix up the monocrop lawn?: The popularity of the environmental movement ‘No Mow May’ is growing like a damp lawn in the summer sun.

According to organisers Plantlife, the annual movement is aimed at providing a feast for pollinators, tackling pollution, reducing urban heat extremes, and sequestering atmospheric carbon in the soil.

No Mow May? Or mix up the monocrop lawn?

No Mow May? Or mix up the monocrop lawn?

As well as those vital pollinators, the campaign attracts its fair share of supporters, celebrity and otherwise.

Chris Packham recently took to social media to encourage his followers to buy his No Mow May t-shirts, and councils the length and breadth of Britain are clamouring to highlight their involvement with the initiative to bolster their environmental credentials with an easy win.

But does the annual campaign actually do any good for the environment and encourage an increase in pollinator numbers? Or is it just another example of greenwashing, something that makes people think they are doing good but in reality, has little real impact?

What’s in a lawn?

As someone who has specialised in growing turf for almost 40 years, grass is something of an obsession for me.

What I have learned in that time is that just letting a lawn grow out for a few weeks in spring rarely, if ever, leads to the ‘wildflower’ effect Plantlife seems to suggest in the images on its website.

So, what actually happens if you don’t cut your grass during May? The answer to this depends largely on what’s in your lawn to begin with.

If it’s been there a very long time and has not been treated to remove ‘weeds’, there is a chance that other species will emerge as a result of reduced mowing, leading to an increase in biodiversity in your lawn.

This, in turn, may well increase the number of insects that visit your garden during May, including those all-important pollinators.

However, even if this is the case, do not expect the emergence of a bright, multi-coloured, wildflower meadow effect, as so much of the marketing material appears to imply.

A few dandelions and daisies might come through, adding a welcome splash of colour, as well as some clovers, but anything beyond this is unlikely to materialise simply by leaving your grass alone.

This scenario also doesn’t represent the majority of lawns in the UK. Most are established by laying a modern cultivated turf that contains a dense mixture of dwarf perennial ryegrasses and fescues. Left to grow out, they simply get longer and stragglier while trying to put up seed heads.

Not a pretty sight and no biodiversity increase at all. After all, these turf mixtures are designed to be mown regularly and look neat and pristine with perfect stripes, not to increase insect numbers.

Raising awareness?

Of course, many might argue that despite creating few tangible benefits for wildlife, No Mow May drives awareness of biodiversity loss and that has to be a good thing.

Well, perhaps, but by positioning it as the solution, it may well do the opposite of what it is trying to achieve.

After all, those taking part will get to the end of May thinking they have done their bit for wildlife when in fact nothing significant has been achieved. Worse still, they then cut the lawn, immediately undoing any benefits that were achieved.

Improve biodiversity by improving biodiversity

So, if it’s time to say no to No Mow May, what can people do to improve biodiversity in their gardens and provide a home for wildlife?

The answer is in the question. If you want to increase the variety of creatures attracted to your garden, start by increasing the variety of plants in your garden.

Use the margins of your lawn to produce a full wildflower effect, which can be achieved via a wildflower turf or by sowing wildflower seeds. Or, for those who want to go a step further, replacing your lawn with a species-rich turf that includes a blend of hardy grasses and wildflowers to create a truly biodiverse area.

Not only will this be great for pollinators, but it will still stand up to the daily rigours of being walked on and having children ride bikes and play on it.

Time to mix up the monocrop lawn?

So, while no more No Mow May might be a good first step, perhaps a better one would be to mix up the monocrop lawn and replace parts of it with a richer variety of species. You can still have your strips, but giving over part of your garden to an area rich in plants will attract pollinators throughout the whole of the summer.

If everyone with a garden were to do this, perhaps we might truly start to reverse the worsening biodiversity crisis and turn our outdoor spaces into the wildlife havens they have every potential to be.

But that will never be achieved within the tight confines of a single month.

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Garden spend ending up in the ditch due to flooding

Garden spend ending up in the ditch due to flooding: British people are wasting £2.9 million on their gardens, thanks to a low understanding of their flood risk, according to new data published today by Flood Re, the joint initiative between the UK government and the insurance industry.   

Despite the cost-of-living crisis, Brits spent £17.6 billion on their gardens last year – an average of £402 per UK adult – but a low awareness of their flood risk means they’re currently wasting £2.9M on their gardens, which are being battered by heavy rain and surface water flooding.

Garden spend ending up in the ditch due to flooding

Garden spend ending up in the ditch due to flooding

In total, 5.4 million (1 in 8) UK adults with gardens have experienced the devastating impact of flooding on their green spaces.

With February 2024 being the wettest on record for over 250 years and 1 in 4 homes in the UK at risk of floodingi, this National Gardening Week Flood Re wants people to start getting smart about their garden spending.

High Risk, Low Awareness 

The data also reveals only 5% of people living in high-risk areas could correctly identify their flood risk. Worryingly, 68% of people in high-risk flood areas think their flood risk is low. This low awareness of flood risk means green fingered Brits are at risk of investing time and money in their gardens that could be washed way.

The research shows Brits are not taking the crucial steps they need to protect their homes and gardens. Indeed, 90% of homeowners, rising to 93% in high and mid flood risk areas, haven’t taken any steps to make their homes and gardens more flood resilient. Despite the extreme weather conditions, this doesn’t look to be changing, with only 9% of homeowners planning to add flood resilience measures to their homes and gardens in the next year.

Furthermore, almost half (46%) of people in high and mid flood risk areas said flood risk had “no impact at all” on where they have chosen to live.

Flood Devastation 

The picture couldn’t be more different for those who have experienced flooding in their home and garden, with 62% claiming risk of flooding has since impacted where they choose to live.  With 41% of those who have experienced flooding considering implementing flood resilience modifications (compared to only 4% of Brits who haven’t experienced flooding), Flood Re is on hand to offer easy, cost-effective ways to smartly invest in your garden as a flood prevention tool.

Gardens are an important and cost-effective first line of defence to flooding. Properly managed, domestic gardens can channel, absorb and store large quantities of water, which means the risk to buildings and property is mitigated. The risk of localised and downstream flooding is reduced too.

From Roots to Resilience 

Choosing a variety of plants such as willow, water mint and astilbe can help ensure your garden can thrive in varying water conditions and withstand the challenges posed by climate change, from drought to inundation.

Similarly, slowing the flow of water into your garden will significantly reduce local flooding risks by diverting rainwater away from infrastructure, easing the burden on drainage systems and avoiding costly upgrades down the line.

To demonstrate how to harness your garden’s natural flood resilience, Flood Re are teaming up with leading garden designer Dr Ed Barsley and Naomi Slade and, to unveil the Flood Resilient Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May. The garden has been carefully designed to show how people can protect their gardens and homes against extreme weather and learn how to increase their flood resilience from the ground up.

Build Back Better

In the event of a flood, Flood Re’s Build Back Better scheme allows eligible customers with specific home insurers to receive up to £10,000 as part of a claim.

The amount is meant for home and garden improvements that go beyond basic repairs, focusing on enhancing the property’s resilience against future floods.

Andy Bord, Chief Executive Officer, Flood Re said: “The research clearly shows there is a job to be done to educate people about their flood risk. Gardens are cherished spaces that bring joy to so many of us, so why wouldn’t we want to not only protect them from harm but actively harness their power to prevent them from future damage? Your garden can be both beautiful and resilient to extreme wet weather. We’re hopeful this research and the Flood Resilient Garden will help people think about their flood risk and consider the plants and garden features that will both endure a flood and help reduce destruction and distress to their home when a flood hits.”

Dr. Ed Barsley, Environmental Design Expert said: “The research clearly shows that the majority of people aren’t aware that their garden or home is at flood risk of flooding until it’s too late. However, what’s positive to note is that there are a variety of practical and cost-effective measures that gardener owners can take to save themselves emotional and financial stress further down the line.”

Nikki Stocks, 63 from Lancashire said: “In the chaos of the flooding, I felt overwhelmed, unsure of how to safeguard my home and happiness due to financial restrictions. It’s affected my mental health because now I’m always anxious when it rains and how bad it could get for my home”.

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Lindum Turf up for prestigious industry award

Lindum Turf up for prestigious industry award: A north Yorkshire turf grower has been nominated for an award at the world’s most prestigious gardening show for the second year in succession.

Lindum Turf, based at Thorganby near York, was named as the winner of the Sustainable Garden Product of the Year category at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show last year, for its plastic-free wildflower turf.

Lindum Turf up for prestigious industry award

Lindum Turf up for prestigious industry award

The turf, which can produce an instant wildflower meadow effect, is grown on a fully biodegradable growing medium, unlike many others that use a single-use plastic mesh that damages the environment.

This year, the company has been shortlisted in the same category for its latest innovation – Species Rich Turf – a mixture of hardy grasses and wildflowers that can directly replace a monoculture grass lawn.

As with wildflower turf, Species Rich is also entirely plastic free, ensuring that laying it does not damage the environment in any way.

Lindum Turf managing director, Stephen Fell, said to be nominated two years in succession was a great honour.

Chelsea Flower Show is the pinnacle achievement for both garden designers and suppliers into the industry, meaning winning at the prestigious event is a huge source of pride.

Mr Fell said: “Being nominated at Chelsea last year, and then winning, was a tremendous achievement and testament to the hard work and innovation the team at Lindum Turf dedicate to creating new and sustainable products.

“Our wildflower turf is not only plastic free, meaning no single use plastics are buried in the soil to degrade into microplastics, it also provides a rich diversity of flora that attracts vital pollinators.

“Our Species Rich Turf builds on this idea, but with the addition of some hardy grass varieties to make it robust enough to replace a normal family lawn.

“The turf can withstand being walked on and played on, but adds a large diversity of plants to a garden making it much more ecologically beneficial than a monocrop lawn. It’s a great way to maximise the environmental benefits of your garden without compromising on utility.”

Lindum Turf will have to wait for the show, which takes place from May 21-25 at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, to find out if they have won.

Some turf producers grow turf with a plastic-reinforced mesh incorporated, which helps to keep it together when being lifted, but the mesh is buried in the soil once the turf is laid leaving it to break down into microplastics which pollute the soil and even nearby watercourses.

Last year, Stephen Fell challenged the industry to remove single use plastics in turf as it is environmentally damaging.

The Chelsea Flower Show has already banned plastic bags, floral foam, and plastic artificial turf across its shows and is aiming for the complete removal of single use plastics by 2025.

It holds the Sustainable Garden Product of the Year category to encourage and highlight innovation in this area and reward companies doing the best work.

Mr Fell described single use plastics as the antithesis of environmentally friendly garden.

He said: “People want to create wildflower meadows because of the beautiful colours and because they provide the type of biodiversity we need to help restore nature.

“This aim is entirely inconsistent with burying harmful plastics in the ground so it is high time the industry fully addressed this issue.”

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Trilo M3 cleans up at Ombersley GC

Trilo M3 cleans up at Ombersley GC: Over the 35 years that Andrew Halfpenny has been Course Manager at Ombersley Golf Club, things have changed dramatically – including the site itself, where the 18 hole parkland course has matured, creating an ever-increasing problem with leaf-fall.

With mulching no longer providing a viable solution, the team took delivery of a Trilo M3 vacuum collector in October 2023, which has proved more than capable of keeping the course clean and tidy over a busy autumn and winter season.

Trilo M3 cleans up at Ombersley GC

Trilo M3 cleans up at Ombersley GC

Andrew has clocked up an impressive 47 years with the company, and currently leads the maintenance of the Worcestershire course supported by a team of five. “Leaves weren’t really too much of a problem traditionally, but as the course has matured, mulching them with a mower became unfeasible time-wise and playability-wise for the golfers” he explains. “We’ve established a fantastic relationship over the years with Tallis Amos Group so approached them to see what they could recommend to collect the leaves. They brought us the Trilo M3, we gave it a thorough test and we bought it – simple as that!”

The M3 Multipurpose from Trilo is capable of a range of operations including scarification, cut and collection and debris clearance depending on the attachment equipped. The 1.5m working width and 3m3 hopper capacity makes it compact yet capable of year-round maintenance tasks in a variety of golf and sports turf applications.

“It was delivered in October and was out on a weekly basis. It coped brilliantly with both the volume of leaves we had and the very wet ground. The wanderhose is a brilliant feature, great for manoeuvring around hedgerows and clearing leaves and other litter around perimeter and fence lines. We used the vacuum in conjunction with our blower, quickly removing everything we wanted to and leaving a really clean finish.” Andrew continues, “The players noticed the difference and loved it!”

While the M3 was predominately purchased for leaf clearance Andrew foresees that, with the climatic changes he has observed during his tenure, it will find other uses. “We see more rain, and notably more wind, which blows litter and tree-debris around the course. The M3 is our new go-to machine for keeping the course tidy.”

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Landscape services level up with Toro Grandstand

Landscape services level up with Toro Grandstand: Last year Landscape Services, providers of commercial grounds maintenance services across Kent and the Southeast of England, added the Toro GrandStand mower to its Toro fleet to deliver speedy operations in even the most awkward areas.

The USP of the GrandStand is in its name, literally. It’s a stand-on mower meaning it’s smaller and more compact, allowing greater access to smaller areas than a ride-on.

Landscape services level up with Toro Grandstand

Landscape services level up with Toro Grandstand

And it’s this that was the selling point for Mike Harris, head of operations at Landscape Services. He says: “With the addition of the Toro Grandstand we were able to quickly service larger areas regardless of whether they had small points of access. This meant more efficient mowing and better use of staff time, which has proven the machine popular with both management and our operational teams.”

In addition, this mower combines the speed and comfort of a zero-turn rider with the on-and-off ease of a wide area walk-behind creating a fast, manoeuvrable and more productive alternative.

All this complemented Landscape Services’ existing fleet of Toro TM7490 gang units and CT triple cylinder mowers, which have long delivered the high level of customer satisfaction the company has strived for over its 80-plus years in business.

“It’s good to have a combination of mowers to cover all surface requirements. The cylinder mowers give a finer cut, which works well for cricket outfields and customers who prefer the more aesthetic appeal,” says Mike. “The additional access benefits of the GrandStand means quicker work and less disruption to the customer, resulting in improved overall customer satisfaction.”

When it comes to groundscare machinery, trusting in Toro and Reesink Turfcare’s South East Sheffield Park branch has proven to be a well-founded decision.

“At the time of purchase Toro offered the best value for money and the best backup service. On top of that, from our experience working with Reesink, the staff have always been helpful and knowledgeable, offering advice and guidance whenever needed, which is a big plus for us,” says Mike.

Choosing the GrandStand isn’t where investing in technology stops for the company either.  Mike says, “Over the next couple of years we will be looking to innovate via our fleet of machines, to reduce maintenance costs, support a positive carbon footprint and diversify our portfolio with mixed specialist technology.”

Discover how Toro technology and Reesink can help you to tackle every terrain, get in touch with Reesink Turfcare, call 01480 226800, email info@reesinkturfcare.co.uk or visit reesinkturfcare.co.uk

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Load up with Makita’s DCU602 wheelbarrow

Load up with Makita’s DCU602 wheelbarrow: As part of the expansion of its LXT cordless range, Makita has unveiled the DCU602 four-wheeled battery-powered wheelbarrow, which boasts an increased maximum load capacity of up to 300kg on flat ground.

The DCU602 wheelbarrow is powered by two 18V LXT Li-Ion batteries in series, but up to four can be used if a longer runtime is required – of up to 100 minutes, where the operator can switch to the second pair of batteries when the first pair are depleted.

Load up with Makita's DCU602 wheelbarrow

Load up with Makita’s DCU602 wheelbarrow

The model is equipped with a dump bucket which can be operated electronically or manually. Easily controlled, the wheelbarrow has three forward speeds – 1.5, 3.5 and 5 km/h – and one reverse; and is equipped with electric and electromagnetic brakes on top of a hand lever operated mechanical brake. A swivel lock also fixes the direction of the rear tyres. In addition, the DCU602 features head and taillights, as well as a warning beeper and level gauge.

Compared to petrol-powered alternatives, the DCU602 offers equivalent power – without the exhaust fumes and CO2 emissions – and is also silent running. The brushless motor is long-life and maintenance free and a battery protection circuit protects against overloading, over-discharging and over-heating.

Makita’s Marketing Manager, Kevin Brannigan, said: “The DCU602 is an ideal solution for landscapers and builders looking to reduce manual handling on site. The DCU602 offers them a powerful and dependable method of safely transporting materials, without the environmental drawbacks of petrol alternatives.”

To find out more about the DCU602 wheelbarrow and download its technical documents, visit: www.makitauk.com

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Green-tech’s Jordan Webster takes a step up

Green-tech’s Jordan Webster takes a step up: Green-tech is delighted to announce that Jordan Webster has been promoted to a Sales Manager.

The former Key account manager has stepped up to manage a sales team of eight from a larger sales team of circa 30 people.  Jordan will be helping to maintain the key account relationship whilst mentoring other members of the team and developing other accounts.

Green-tech’s Jordan Webster takes a step up

Green-tech’s Jordan Webster takes a step up

Along with the two other Sales Managers in the business, Jordan will support the management team to set and achieve company budgets whilst managing the day-to-day running of his team.

Green-tech has ambitious sales targets and Jordan will be responsible for his team’s. He will have responsibility for signing off customer quotations and orders to meet this target, whilst keeping his team engaged and motivated, maintaining relationships with other departments, and delivering the exceptional service levels that the company is renowned for.

Well-known and respected in the industry, Jordan has recently celebrated his ten-year anniversary with Green-tech.  He is a former Pro Landscaper the next generation 30 under 30 winner and is a recognised face at industry events and exhibitions.

Jordan is heading up the newly refurbished Green-tech trade centre that is based in North Yorkshire.  He oversees the team who are tasked with identifying local growth opportunities and driving sales through new and existing customers.

Commenting on the appointment, Sales Director Richard Gill said, “I am thrilled for Jordan. He is a key person in our sales team and it’s great that he has stepped up to take a management role. Jordan has a wealth of experience and knowledge, and this coupled with his commitment and enthusiasm will stand him in good stead to lead his team and be successful in his new role. I am confident that he will make a great contribution to the future growth and development of Green-tech.”

Remarking on his new role, Jordan adds, “I am delighted to have received this promotion and I’m looking forward to developing this role. It’s a new challenge for me but I feel I have a lot to add and I’m excited about taking an active part in the management side of the business as well as being instrumental in growing sales.”

If you are interested in joining Green-tech and building a career within the landscaping industry, click the link below to check out their careers page with all current vacancies.

https://www.green-tech.co.uk/about-us/careers

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Baroness and Kubota team up at BTME

Baroness and Kubota team up at BTME: Stand 624 at BTME 2024 is set to be a platform for Japanese excellence as Baroness and Kubota team up once again to showcase a vast array of equipment solutions critical to successful fine turf maintenance.

Particular highlights are set to include the all-hydraulic LM311 Baroness greens and tees mower and the Kubota FC out-front centre-collect mower – both designed to deliver uncompromising performance, efficiency and outstanding versatility.

Baroness and Kubota team up at BTME

Baroness and Kubota team up at BTME

Featuring the superior cutting performance and comfort synonymous with the Baroness brand, the LM311 all-hydraulic triplex mower delivers precision for cutting tasks around the golf course. At its heart is an economic 17hp Kubota diesel engine, providing reliability in performance and powering the precision demanded to deliver pristine greens and tees.

Beside the LM311 will be the new LM351 four-wheel drive triplex mower which features ‘series circuit drive system’, enabling a smaller turning radius and superior climbing performance – making the LM351 ideal for the mowing of banks and surrounds. On show in Harrogate for the first time, the LM351 will be joined by other Baroness products including the FS900 core collector and a selection of rollers from the AgriMetal range.

For Kubota, the highly productive FC3 and FC4 out-front centre-collect mower range will be making a popular return. The FC3-261, and larger FC4-501, feature a high-capacity hopper and ‘floating’ out-front flail deck which promises to conform to undulating ground, offering an effective solution to cut and collect tasks around the golf course including rough and heather management.

Innovation will be visible across the Kubota portfolio, in particular in the recent expansion of their electric offering – with both the LXe-261 electric compact tractor and Ze series of electric zero-turn mowers making their BTME debut. Combining high-quality cut performance with enhanced operator comfort through reduced noise and vibration levels, the Ze promises to be a productive and more environmentally-conscious choice, ideal for local authorities and contractors.

Visitors looking for further information on any of the Baroness and Kubota products are encouraged to speak with the technical teams, on hand on stand 624, across the three days.

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Makita powers up the heat

Makita powers up the heat: In addition to powering the expanding line-up of cordless tools and accessories, Makita has introduced two new heated base layers to its range of job site apparel.

Powered either with Makita’s 18V LXT battery or the 12Vmax CXT battery, professionals can stay warm when working in cold, harsh job site conditions with the new DCX200 and DCX201 heated base layer shirts.

Makita powers up the heat

Makita powers up the heat

With four dedicated heat zones (front waist, both forearms and back) for optimum heat distribution and three heat settings to adjust to changing weather conditions, these new garments can provide continuous heat for up to 33 hours (when used on the low setting with the BL1860B 6Ah LXT battery – sold separately).

Both base layers are made from elasticated fabric to allow unrestricted movement, are machine washable and have a simple switch on/off button that is easily accessible at the front. The key difference between the two products is the style – the DCX200 is a simple pullover style shirt with a round neck, while the slip on DCX201 features a half zip with a stand-up collar.

The new long-sleeved base layers can be powered by Makita’s 18V LXT or 12Vmax CXT batteries which can be placed in a battery holder attached to the waist belt.

Kevin Brannigan, Marketing Manager at Makita UK commented: “Our heated base layers are perfect for anyone who works in cold conditions – whether outdoors or indoors. The four heat zones cover the front waist, top centre of the back and both forearms, providing effective and welcome warmth that will enable users to more comfortably carry out their work, all year round.”

The unisex DCX200 and DCX201 heated base layer shirts are available in a range of sizes, from XS to 3XL and join a growing line up of heated jackets and vests from the manufacturer that are ideal for the colder months.

To find out more about Makita and its range of products visit: www.makitauk.com.

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Green-tech Specifier signs up to NBS

Green-tech Specifier signs up to NBS: Green-tech Specifier has recently signed up to NBS Source – a tool that provides a single source for product information for architects and specifiers.

NBS Source includes over 1,100 manufacturers and 33,000 products and is free for Specifiers to use.

Green-tech Specifier signs up to NBS

Green-tech Specifier signs up to NBS

Green-tech’s Specification Advisor Alasdair Innes, comments “NBS is an integrated global platform for everyone involved in the design, supply, and construction of the built environment.  It is an investment by the business and shows our commitment to the landscape specification sector by making our products easily accessible for specifiers across the UK.”

For over 50 years, NBS has helped architects produce their specifications and connect them with manufacturers.

Green-tech has a huge choice of products listed from green screens and grilles to anchors and soils. Also listed is their latest urban tree planting cell system – TreeParker® and Green-tree Raft Soil.

TreeParker® is a versatile urban tree planting cell system distributed in the UK exclusively by Green-tech. It is a modular structural soil cell system for planting trees in city centres and other urban environments.

The system maximises the space available for the growing media and is in contact with the surrounding soil to ensure a natural growth environment.  Through a simple and smart design, the TreeParker® system can be installed into any tree planting space. It is easy to customise a tree pit design to meet individual needs. Each independent unit has sufficient load-bearing capacity, so units do not need to be linked. The load is transferred from the pavement to the underlying foundations via the system and avoids soil compaction to ensure optimum root growth.

Alasdair, concludes, “Since we signed up to the NBS platform we have seen a surge in enquiries from specifiers which is great news for Green-tech and just what we had hoped.  With all relevant information in one location, its appeal to architects and specifiers is easy to understand. We have seen a marked interest in our new TreeParker system so we’re looking forward to seeing how these enquiries develop.”

For more information, please visit https://www.thenbs.com/

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