Quality playing surfaces are critical for the enjoyment of bowlers and the growth of our sport. Greenkeepers work tirelessly to transform and maintain bowls greens to the highest possible standard. Their exceptional and selfless dedication enhances club facilities, making them sort-after venues to host prestigious competitions.

Below are the list of greenkeepers which have been shortlisted for the Greenkeeper of the Year Award (sponsored by Dennis Mowers and SISIS) at the Bowls England Awards 2023.

Dean Gibbons (Wantage BC, Berkshire)

Dean Gibbons, a dedicated Green Keeper at Wantage Bowling Club, has transformed the playing surface into the best in the county. Known for his relentless efforts, Dean combats challenges like overhanging trees and invasive elements, ensuring impeccable conditions that have attracted County recognition. The greens’ quality has led to the club hosting end stages of County Competitions, showcasing their excellence.

Dean’s commitment goes beyond routine maintenance; he actively seeks ways to enhance the greens, undertaking repairs and replacements, saving the club significant expenses. Despite his family commitments and a daytime job, Dean always manages to maintain the upkeep of the greens, reflecting his passion for bowls and the club.

Having started bowling at a young age, Dean’s interest in the playing surface led him to become a greenkeeper. His journey, from involving his father in the role to eventually taking it on himself, emphasises his long-standing dedication to the sport. His expertise extends beyond the club, as he generously shares advice with other clubs.

Dean’s exceptional contributions and unwavering commitments were recognised when he won the Grounds Management Association Industry Award last year after being nominated.

Kevin Hill (Hendon BC, Middlesex)

Kevin’s exceptional and selfless dedication at Hendon Bowling Club have transformed its green into the best in the county and one of the finest in the South East. Balancing a full-time job, Kevin’s self-taught greenkeeping skills have consistently elevated the green, achieving standards few full-time greenkeepers attain.

Year after year, Kevin’s relentless commitment to setting and surpassing greenkeeping goals has resulted in an impressive playing surface that draws acclaim from visiting clubs. Despite working a full-time job, Kevin starts his greenkeeping duties as early as 5:30 am, ensuring the green is pristine for morning fixtures.

Kevin volunteered for the role, tirelessly levelling the ends of the green and addressing thatch issues. His efforts have not only attracted new bowlers from other clubs but also secured opportunities for Hendon to host county games and finals, showcasing the green’s excellent pace and quality. The county selected Hendon BC to host the county finals every year since Kevin took charge.

Apart from his detailed focus on the green itself, Kevin dedicates considerable time to maintaining the surrounding areas. His early morning visits, even sacrificing personal time with family, underline his unwavering commitment to keeping the green in immaculate condition.

Kevin’s passion has elevated Hendon’s reputation, making it a sought-after venue for numerous clubs. His willingness to go the extra mile, offering advice on greenkeeping and ensuring a consistently high standard, has not gone unnoticed.

Mark Piper (Maldon BC, Essex)

Mark Piper has orchestrated a remarkable transformation of Maldon BC green, rescuing it from a state of disrepair to become one of the finest in Essex. Taking charge three years ago, he swiftly addressed issues of bare patches, moss, and weeds, astonishing everyone with the immediate progress. Mark’s continuous efforts have elevated the club’s standing, making it a sought-after venue for high-quality bowls competitions.

The green’s reputation has grown to the extent that Eastern Counties and Essex Balcomb Trophy matches have been proposed for the upcoming year—a testament to the progress achieved in a short time.

Membership has surged by 30%, welcoming bowlers of all levels, including newcomers attracted by the superior playing surface. Mark’s accomplishment was duly acknowledged by the local authority, honouring him with an award from the town council’s environmental committee for his environmentally sustainable practices.

Mark’s maintenance program prioritises organic methods to enhance the green’s health and resist diseases without relying on synthetic chemicals. His innovative and environmentally friendly approach earned the club significant funding for top-quality greenkeeping equipment, securing almost £9,000 from the local recycling centre’s community welfare fund.

Mark’s dedication extends beyond the club; he willingly shares his knowledge with other greenkeepers, conducts demonstrations, and provides guidance to those seeking to improve their facilities. His positive relationship with the local school, offering work experience and training programs, exemplifies his commitment to nurturing the next generation of greenkeepers.

Paul Kelly (Wellington BC, Somerset)

In his nearly seven years as head greenkeeper at Wellington Bowling Club, Paul Kelly has brought about a remarkable transformation, elevating the green from an average state to one of the best in the southwest of England. When the club faced financial challenges due to escalating contractor costs, Paul’s commitment saved the day, securing loans to purchase necessary equipment.

Under Paul’s meticulous management, the green has become a desirable venue for prestigious competitions, hosting matches like the Middleton Cup, Balcomb Trophy, and Walker Cup. The schedule of works he implemented, including cutting, scarifying, and verticutting, has been pivotal in achieving an even swing on both sides and an optimal playing pace.

Paul’s expertise extends to thorough chemical treatments, adhering to safety regulations and maintaining comprehensive poisons register. Beyond the green, he oversees equipment maintenance, purchases, and management, ensuring cost-effectiveness for the members who fund these efforts.

Leading a team of five, Paul emphasises health, safety, and training with his dedication going beyond regular working hours, with late-night watering and early-morning visits.

Visiting teams consistently praise the green’s quality. Testimonials from the club’s bowls coordinator and visiting teams emphasise Paul’s integral role in the club’s success and growing membership.

In addition to his greenkeeping ability, Paul has served in various club roles, including men’s captain and president. His versatility has been pivotal in boosting the club’s membership in the past year.

Peter Harrison (Frampton on Severn BC, Gloucestershire)

For an impressive 48 years, Peter has been the dedicated Head Greenkeeper at Frampton on Severn Bowls Club, demonstrating unwavering commitment to maintaining and improving the green. Recognised as the preferred green for prestigious matches like Middleton Cup and White Rose, Peter’s personal pride and countless hours of effort have elevated the green to one of the best in the region.

Peter’s journey began in the mid-70s when he joined Cadburys Bowls Club, now Frampton. Despite challenges, including the loss of colleagues, Peter’s determination and part-time dedication allowed the green to steadily improve, securing its status as a top choice for county bowling events.

Over the years, Peter has trained and mentored assistants, including John Williams and the current essential assistant, Rob. While Peter continues summer work with his loyal team, professional help is enlisted for intensive winter maintenance. This strategic decision has preserved the green’s high quality while lightening Peter’s load.

Not limited to greenkeeping, Peter has been a driving force in Frampton’s development. From spearheading the construction of a new clubhouse in 1989 to serving as Club Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer for a combined 26 years, Peter’s contributions extend beyond the green. Despite retiring from playing in 2019, Peter’s commitment persists as he imparts his vast knowledge to the next generation of greenkeepers.

Peter’s dedication, dry wit, and good humour have left an indelible mark on Frampton on Severn Bowls Club. His talented contributions, both on and off the green, showcase a lifetime commitment to the sport and the community he has served for nearly five decades. Peter’s legacy is not just a well-maintained green but a club enriched by his leadership and expertise.

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