The expertise and dedication of the sports grounds teams at two major sporting venues in Sussex have been recognised by this year’s Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Industry Awards as Sussex County Cricket Club and Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park have both won major industry-recognised accolades against national competition in an award contested with the All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon and The Queen’s Club, Kensington.
In addition, Devonshire Park’s head groundsman, Danny Negus, has also been singled out for national recognition.
Danny has been named the 2019 IOG Ransomes/DLF Johnsons Alex R Millar Groundsperson of the Year in recognition of his achievements after 14 years at the tennis venue, including the last three years as head groundsman.
Danny and his team also collected the IOG Cub Cadet Infinicut Professional Tennis Courts Grounds Team of the Year Award.
In a prestigious ceremony hosted by BBC TV presenter Dan Walker at The Vox, located in Resorts World at the Birmingham NEC, Danny Negus received his individual award from Ransomes’ William Carr, Regional Sales Director, UK & Ireland and DLF Johnsons’ Amenity Sales & Marketing Manager, Derek Smith, while his Devonshire team collected their award from Cub Cadet Infinicut’s Director of Sales & Marketing Tony Whelan, and Headland Amenity’s Alex Hawkes in front of an audience of more than 600 of the UK’s and Europe’s leading grounds care experts, as well as dignitaries from the governing bodies of sport and influential sports administrators.
The relatively small grounds team which only has four full-timers) at Devonshire Park takes great pride in maintaining and continually improving the 24 world class Championship grass courts and 1.5 hectares of lawns, borders and hedging at the Eastbourne site.
This has one of the longest running grass court seasons in the country - from April through to September. During this time, the venue stages six major events with the Nature Valley International being the largest where this year there were over 50 hours of match play in seven days.
The courts are situated within Devonshire Park and at two external sites - Meads Tennis Club and Moira House School – and all courts are maintained to an International specification.
While the grounds team has also been heavily involved in the removal of two buildings and the subsequent installation of two AELTC specification Championship courts, they have also:
Taken over the management and maintenance of an 18-hole golf course, introduced a new cutting style to the show courts, which has attracted much positive interest and discussions among players, officials and commentators and organised and hosted an educational seminar for local college’s NVQ level 2 and 3 students.
Devonshire Park is committed to succession planning and has an ongoing commitment to apprenticeships.
In terms of his individual award, Danny adds that his role as a team leader embraces so much more than grounds care: “It’s also so much about helping people build their characters and when the need arises, being compassionate and being a shoulder to cry on.”