Wantage BC in Berkshire recently clinched the prestigious Bowls/Croquet Groundsperson/Team of the Year award at the GMA (Grounds Management Association) Awards for the second consecutive year. Dean Gibbons, volunteer Greenkeeper and part of the winning team shares his insights into the dedication, challenges, and innovative practices that contributed to this remarkable achievement.
Dean expresses his elation at winning the award and being acknowledged by industry professionals for the second year in a row. He told us, “To win the Bowls/Croquet Groundsperson/Team of the Year is an amazing honour and achievement; being recognised by the industry association. It feels even more special to also be the winner for the 2nd year in a row.
“As well as being Volunteer Greenkeeper of Wantage BC as a team of two, I also work full time as a Civil Engineer and have a young family. Balancing all three passions is tricky and not without its challenges but reaps great rewards,” Dean shares. He emphasizes the daily dedication needed to keep the green in optimal condition, especially during the summer months.
Dean sheds light on the relentless nature of green maintenance, particularly during autumn. “Our green is situated within the local park, with one side of the green lined closely by large beech trees. Autumn becomes the time when no matter how many times leaves and beech nuts are cleared in one single day, by the next day it looks like you have not been there.”
The everlasting struggle to keep the green pristine showcases the team’s unwavering dedication. Dean takes pride in the club’s commitment to sustainability, both environmentally and financially.
“Since being the Greenkeeper of Wantage Bowling Club, I have always strived to introduce a sustainable approach to maintaining the bowling surface,” he states. By adopting an organic approach and eliminating pesticide use, the team has not only created an award-winning playing surface but has also minimized costs.
Despite their success, the Wantage BC team remains focused on maintaining their outstanding playing surface. “Our main goal is to maintain the outstanding bowling surface we have achieved, recognized by so many bowlers both within Berkshire and from other counties,” says Dean. The ongoing project of re-levelling and supporting the green’s edges is a testament to their dedication to continuous improvement.
He added, “This work is being done completely in-house by myself and a small number of other members. Subsequent to this, we will then look to redo the banks of the green, safeguarding this for years to come.”