In praise of the The Green Flag Award® scheme
by TurfPro Editor, Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR
Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR

The Green Flag Award® scheme recognises and rewards well managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the UK and around the world.


Following on from Steve Gibbs’s piece on the importance of professional parks maintenance a couple of weeks ago, hopefully movements such as the Charter For Parks will gain some serious momentum with support from organisations such as Fields In Trust, Keep Britain Tidy, Greenspace Scotland and The Gardens Trust.


If professionals and the public alike get behind such campaigns, eventually the politicians will have no choice but to listen and to act on demands for ring fenced budgets for these community parks and open spaces for our next generation to enjoy.


I personally would like talk about one of the leading drivers of this campaign and the work they have been doing for the last twenty years. The Green Flag Award® scheme recognises and rewards well managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.

In 1997, when the first Green Flags were awarded, the green space sector in the United Kingdom was in a parlous state. Decades of underfunding had left many once proud and beautiful historic city centre parks derelict, dangerous, no-go areas, and many other green spaces were neglected or barely maintained. Experts with a shared interest in promoting natural spaces from a range of backgrounds came together in response to this decline.


Their intention was to establish agreed standards of good management, to help to justify and evaluate funding, and to bring people back into the parks. And it worked. As the standard became established, other green spaces began to apply for the Award, and now Green Flags fly over parks, cemeteries and crematoria, recreation grounds, canals, reservoirs, educational campuses, hospital grounds, housing estates, nature reserves and allotments. There is no limit on the size of the site; they currently range from less than one hectare to thousands of hectares.

As a Green Flag Judge, I am very proud and honoured to be part of a tremendous team of 600 plus volunteer judges who go around and judge over 2000 sites a year.

It is important we raise the profile and give credit to all those who manage these wonderful assets. Parks and public open spaces are an essential part of our social and economic wellbeing.

Having completed my training as a parks apprentice and working my way up the ranks to become a parks manager, I know only too well the value of these assets and what they bring to our communities.

Our current turfgrass industry and the thousands of people who work in it is derived from the demand on the services required to manage these public open spaces.


One of the reasons I left the Local Authority service was the fact that we were loosing our voice as parks managers and that budgets and parks services where constantly being driven down year on year. The Green Flag awards has been instrumental in protecting and promoting the value of these greenspaces and raising the profile of all those who manage these sites.

The purpose & aims of attaining green flag status helps to :-

  • Ensure that everybody has access to quality green and other open spaces, irrespective of where they live.
  • Ensure that these spaces are appropriately managed and meet the needs of the communities that they serve.
  • To establish standards of good management.
  • To promote and share good practice amongst the green space sector.
  • To recognise and reward the hard work of managers, staff and volunteers.

Winning a Green Flag Award® brings with it a wealth of benefits, from the status of being affiliated with a prestigious awards programme through to tangible benefits such as boosting tourism and opening up revenue opportunities.

Each year, winners receive a Green Flag or Green Flag Community Award Flag. Those with Green Heritage Site Accreditation also receive a plaque to promote the status.


As the international standard for parks and green spaces, holding a Green Flag Award® brings with it a vast amount of prestige. It is also an excellent example of civic achievement and provides communities with a great sense of civic pride.

Winning a Green Flag Award® visibly demonstrates to the local community that a clear improvement has been made to a site.


Improving facilities at a park/green space and engaging more with the local community can have a knock on effect to the regeneration of an area.

Upgrading a site to achieve Green Flag status can, for example, bring about improvements to health and education, reduce crime and improve the general cleanliness of an area, whilst at the same time providing a boost to its profile.

Having a Green Flag Award® is an excellent lever for obtaining external funding through improvement grants and is a means of maximising revenue opportunities from within the site. An example of a national funding scheme to which winners can apply is the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Many of us have fantastic memories that started in a park - whether it’s flying a kite with our Granddads, time spent with friends, teaching our own children to walk, or a hundred other things - parks bring people together.

Surely the time has come for our government to recognise the value of these parks and start to work with the key drivers and personalities who have been standing up for the wonderful assets for over twenty years and finally put in place a viable maintenance funding system to help maintain these valuable assets.


This publication, produced to celebrate 20 years of the award in 2016, contains a series of case studies from some of our amazing winners and demonstrates how the criteria can be applied across a wide range of public green spaces.

Read it here

Colin Webber established Portmore Golf Park in 1993
Colin Webber, picture courtesy of Pitchcare

A fifth-generation farmer, who built a successful golf club from scratch, has accepted the role of vice president of the British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association.


A fifth-generation farmer, who built a successful golf club from scratch, has accepted the role of vice president of the British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA).


Colin Webber, 59, established Portmore Golf Park in 1993 and has developed the venue into a vibrant 27-hole facility which, due to his commitment to sustainable greenkeeping, won environmental golf course of the year in 2010.


Colin Webber, picture courtesy of Pitchcare


BIGGA has now revealed that Colin has accepted the nomination to become BIGGA Vice President from January 2019, leading to becoming president of the association from January 2020.


Colin and his family established Portmore Golf Park from a 12-bay driving range after various pressures put his family farming business in jeopardy. Over the following years came another 12 bays, a par-3 9-hole Hawtree-designed course, and then finally a further 18 that set Portmore up as a 27-hole venue.


For a time, Colin was the only greenkeeper operating the site, but early on in his career he joined BIGGA and benefitted from the networking and educational opportunities provided by the association.


In 2010, Portmore won Overall Achievement of the Year at the Golf Environment Awards, built upon a commitment to sustainable and organic greenkeeping.


Colin overcame a stroke suffered in 2011 to continue to lead his business and continue to be an active member of BIGGA’s Devon & Cornwall Section and the South West & South Wales Regional Board.


He was first approached about the role just two weeks after the passing of his father, who had helped him build the business from the ground up.


“It’s a huge honour, I keep thinking ‘are you sure you have got the right person?’ I am flattered that BIGGA would consider me for such an important national role. It is huge, I have never been asked to do anything like this, I’m not someone who likes to stand in the limelight.


“I had a phone call from [BIGGA Chief Executive Officer] Jim Croxton saying I had been nominated for the role. Jim didn’t know it, but this was a few weeks after my dad, Frank, had died. It was very emotional time and the one person I wanted to tell was my dad.”


“Over the years I have been fortunate enough to build friendships with so many of the greats of greenkeeping, spending hours with the likes of Billy Mitchell, Jack McMillan, Richard Whyman, George Shiels and Jeff Mills, trying to build up a picture of how things used to be done, looking backward to go forward. I became involved and started volunteering with BIGGA because of the help so many guys had given me, especially the small group of lads who I worked together with to complete our City & Guilds almost 30 years ago. Their help was invaluable in building our business. I said I would repay my debt to the association, and since then I have worked hard to do that.”


As vice president, Colin will support West Derby Head Greenkeeper Chris Sheehan, who will become BIGGA President for a one-year term during BTME 2019, to be held in Harrogate next January, when he succeeds current President Chris Kennedy. Following that year, Colin will become BIGGA president for one year from January 2020.


BIGGA CEO Jim Croxton said: “Colin’s story is an inspirational one, and one that proves there is little that can’t be achieved with determination and an eagerness to learn.


“The association is delighted that Colin has accepted the nomination to become vice president from January 2019 and I am certain that he will be a fantastic asset, lending his unique experience of the greenkeeping industry to the continued development of BIGGA as we strive to support and serve our members.”

Looking to retake world record for fastest lawnmower
Honda's Mean Mower V2

Honda (UK) is out to reclaim the crown for the world’s fastest lawnmower with a target speed of 150mph in its sights - and has released a new video and pictures of the Mean Mower V2.


Read more & watch video

Honda (UK) is out to reclaim the crown for the world’s fastest lawn mower with Mean Mower V2 and a target speed of 150mph in its sights.


The company have now released a new video which shows the machine in action for the first time.


Mean Mower - It's Alive....

Built by Team Dynamics, Honda’s British Touring Car Championship partner and the team behind the original Mean Mower that took the record for the world’s fastest lawn mower in 2014, the company says development has moved on to a whole new level. Now using CAD design, more bespoke parts, advanced materials, and 3D printing, it now packs almost double the power of the original, with the development team estimating it is capable of speeds in excess of 150mph.

Dave Hodgetts, Managing Director, Honda (UK), said, “The original Mean Mower was a great challenge for us and the result was an amazing machine. This time we have moved the game on considerably to build an incredible piece of real engineering, using advanced design and production techniques and calling upon some very clever thinking to bring the performance and power but still retain the look of the production mower. We’re in testing phase now and everything is looking good, with a top speed of more than 150mph very much in our sights.”


A key part of the brief was to retain the look of a lawn mower - in this case the Honda HF 2622 lawn tractor -- which it does by carrying over its front cowl, grass box and body panels. The second essential element is the ability to still cut grass, which it also still does, thanks to slight revisions to the cutter deck to house the chain running to the rear tyres and the two batteries required to power electric motors which spin carbon fibre blades to mow.

The engine - a 999cc four-cylinder unit taken from Honda’s CBR1000RR Fireblade SP motorcycle - produces more than 190bhp at 13,000rpm. With a super-light frame and engine dry weight of just 69.1kg Team Dynamics engineers predict a power to weight ratio of 1000bhp/tonne.

The Fireblade DNA continues with the carry-over of several other parts including clutch, ECU, six-speed drive train and full colour LCD display. The programmable quick shift gear system promises precise and responsive shift through carbon paddles on the steering wheel - with the team estimating that this new machine could reach 90mph in first gear.

The majority of Mean Mower V2 has been bespoke designed and manufactured, with the chassis made from T45 steel rather than chromoly for durability and flexibility - vital given that it has no suspension. What to do if the airbox won’t fit under the cowl because the injectors are in the way? 3D print an airbox to fit, of course!

The all-important matter of braking is covered off by Kelgate - four-piston callipers to the front and six to the rear - vented to increase airflow and reduce weight. Goldspeed ten-inch ATV wheels anodised in gold match that of the Fireblade, with special-order Hoosier racing tyres giving the grip.

With all of this incredible refined raw power, Honda felt a professional racer is the only choice to tame Mean Mower V2. Enter Jess Hawkins, an experienced kart and car racer. At just 23, Jess is currently performing as a stunt driver in the touring Fast & Furious Live show.

The original Mean Mower was launched in 2013, aiming to highlight the breadth of Honda’s product offering, sporty credentials and reputation as one of the world’s most innovative companies. It went on to become the world’s fastest lawnmower when it hit an incredible 116.575mph, at the IDIADA Proving Ground, a record which has since been surpassed.

Applications now open
ICL Continue to Learn Scholarship applications are open

Now in its third year, ICL and BIGGA are seeking five BIGGA members to take up the 2019 scholarship.


Applications are now open for the ICL Continue to Learn Scholarship 2019.

Now in its third year, ICL and BIGGA are seeking five BIGGA members to take up the 2019 scholarship. The scholarship provides 15 hours of education from the Continue to Learn education programme, three nights accommodation, visiting the BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition and also includes networking opportunities with fellow greenkeepers and the sponsor.



2018 recipient Daniel Ashelby, assistant greenkeeper at Wilmslow Golf Club, commented, “Being an ICL Continue to Learn scholar is a very busy experience. The experience is very immersive and offers fantastic learning opportunities and is highly motivational to aspiring greenkeepers”.


Fellow 2018 recipient Simon Pyett, greenkeeper at Halesworth Golf Club, reflected that the scholarship has helped him to identify that he is “now certain that my passion for ecology and nature sit squarely alongside my passion for greenkeeping.” He continued that he, “would love to be at the leading edge of such an approach to greenkeeping going forwards”.


The application process invites applicants to consider why BTME and Continue to Learn are important to the industry, how it will help them achieve their career aspirations and why they should be awarded the scholarship.


Applicants should be full greenkeeper members of BIGGA and be CPD Active. To apply visit www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ICL2019.


Applications close at 5.00pm on Tuesday 31 July 2018. The selected scholars will be announced in the October issue of Greenkeeper International.


It should be noted that the Scholars will be expected to meet the costs of their travel, meals and other personal expenses.


For further information about becoming CPD Active click here

New event for SALTEX this year
Lawn Care Legends meet-up

A networking opportunity for landscapers and gardeners will be available at SALTEX 2018 - which takes place at the NEC, Birmingham on 31 October and 1 November.


A networking opportunity for landscapers and gardeners will be available at SALTEX 2018 - which takes place at the NEC, Birmingham on 31 October and 1 November.


Lawn Care Legends, a Facebook group which was created in July 2016, is a thriving online community with over 3,000 worldwide active members. It is primarily a group for all landscapers and gardeners to showcase their work and knowledge and ultimately support one another.


Lawn Care Legends meet-up


The majority of group members are based in the UK, Ireland, USA, Australia and Canada and the group sees, on average, 40-60 individual member posts and approximately 4,500 engagements every day from likes to comments.


“The kind of topics of conversation can be anything from recommendations on products, machines or brands, what people prefer to use - the pros and cons, or it could be to do with marketing your business or pricing a job. It is open to professionals and aspiring professionals and the group encourages the positive aspect of sharing information,” said group founder John Ryan.


John says that while he believes social media is an important aspect of the industry, the group is far more than just social sharing. “Social media is a way to feed on the passion for the industry but it is much more than just sharing pictures and talking about lawnmowers; it is a way of connecting with people who have the same interests as you, have the same passion as you, and ultimately face the same difficulties as you.


“One thing I have personally experienced and widely seen in this industry is mental health, and that has commonly derived from being a solo operator or a small business owner. The difficulties and the challenges we face can be overwhelming and if we don’t have somewhere to turn to for advice or for some encouragement, then it can be really tough going. Social media breaks down those barriers and can make you feel less alone. In between jobs, or in times of distress, group members can take out their phone, quickly hop on to Lawn Care Legends and instantly be in contact with people who specifically understand both the highs and the lows of being a small business owner.”


Lawn Care Legends LIVE will take place on the first day of SALTEX 2018 and John, who is hosting the event alongside other popular Landscaping ‘YouTubers’ Curtis Jones and Jason Groom, revealed his ambitions for the event.

“Ultimately we are trying to build on a positive movement that has driven many people to develop their skills and deliver a higher service to customers while at the same time gaining more passion and appreciation for their own businesses.


“The event is open to everybody - the solo operator, the small to medium business owner, anyone who is following what manufacturers are doing, or following what their peers and colleagues within the industry are doing. By bringing Lawn Care Legends LIVE to SALTEX, it creates a go-to event of the year that people, not just members of Lawn Care Legends, can look forward to in connecting with other likeminded individuals.”


Lawn Care Legends LIVE will be also be hosting an awards ceremony at the event.


“We are running a competition where entrants can submit up to ten pictures which show the quality of their work. It might be beautiful stripes on a lawn, a crisp edge between a flower bed and a lawn or it could be a topiary cutting - anything at all.


“The pictures can be posted in the Facebook group or through Twitter and Instagram and then in September a shortlist will be created. Everyone who makes it onto the shortlist will be in with a chance to win as the winners will be selected by a random generator. The winners will be then announced on the first day of SALTEX at the Lawn Care Legends LIVE event.”


The prizes will include:
• A shaft drive professional lawnmower
• A professionally built website worth approximately £1500
• Lawn Care Legends clothing

To enter the competition join the Lawn Care Legends Facebook group www.facebook.com/groups/lawncarelegends or use the hashtag #LCLSALTEX18 on Instagram or Twitter.


Lawn Care Legends LIVE will take place on 31 October at 2:00pm in concourse suites 22 and 23 by the SALTEX entrance.

Rafferty Newman in East Hampshire
Mick Challen, left, owner of new TYM dealer Rafferty Newman, with Reesink’s Scott Turner who is shaking hands with Rafferty Newman’s Joe Challen

TYM Tractors has welcomed Rafferty Newman in East Hampshire to its dealer network, and in doing so doubles their coverage to the groundscare market in the West Sussex area.


TYM Tractors has welcomed Rafferty Newman in East Hampshire to its dealer network, and in doing so doubles their coverage to the groundscare market in the West Sussex area.


Mick Challen, left, owner of new TYM dealer Rafferty Newman, with Reesink’s Scott Turner who is shaking hands with Rafferty Newman’s Joe Challen


It’s not one of the biggest counties in the country, but Sussex has plenty of agricultural and groundscare customers, including private estates, smallholdings and farms in need of a compact tractor, says Mick Challen, owner of the 50-year-strong Rafferty Newman.


“There was a demand to meet in our area. Tractors have been part of our range in the past and after hearing about TYM’s reputation for quality, we got in touch with its distributor Reesink Turfcare and joined forces with them.


“Often customers come into the shop without knowing exactly what kind of product they’re after but knowing the tasks they need it for. We’ve previously offered tractors but more recently, while we’ve been specialising in UTV and ATV vehicles, there have been times when customers’ tasks have called for more than a vehicle - for front loaders or PTOs.”


Scott Turner, southern regional sales manager at Reesink Turfcare, said, “There’s enough of a demand for TYM in Sussex to warrant two dealers meeting it and the appointment of Rafferty Newman ensures sufficient coverage in the area. There are a good many reasons why Rafferty Newman has such a strong, loyal customer-base and we are very glad to entrust them with the TYM brand by welcoming them to our ever-expanding dealer network.”

Over 350 attend events
Delegates at a Dennis & SISIS bowling green maintenance seminar

The 2018 Dennis and SISIS Spring / Summer seminars finished in style with an "overwhelming" number of greenkeepers wanting to attend the educational events.


The 2018 Dennis and SISIS Spring / Summer bowling green maintenance seminars finished in style with over 350 people in attendance across the eight venues and an overwhelming number of greenkeepers wanting to attend the educational events.



"The seminars are about attendees getting as much information as they can and making the day enjoyable. They can go away with some excellent knowledge which they can then put into practice on their own greens. The 2018 events have been a tremendous success," said Roger Moore, sales and marketing manager for Dennis and SISIS.


The informative, educational and interactive seminars combine insightful seminars and practical tips while a number of industry experts also take to the stage to discuss a wide range of key topics.


Attendees are able to gain tips on the maintenance of bowling greens, grant funding support, choosing the correct grass seed and the usage of chemicals. A complimentary lunch, which signals the halfway point, offers great networking opportunities before attendees make their way outside to an on-the-green demonstration.


The demonstration not only provides a perfect opportunity to see some maintenance equipment in action but also brings together the morning education with the practical elements of applying it to the greens.


To find out more about these free seminars, contact Roger Moore on 01332 824777 or email roger.moore@dennisuk.com.

By Simon Richard Ltd
Simon Richard Ltd at the Highland Show

UK Sales Agents for the Reform specialist tractor, Muthing flail and Woods Batwing rotary cutter ranges say show proved to be a productive event for their business.


Simon RIchard Ltd, UK Sales Agents for the Reform specialist tractor, Muthing flail and Woods Batwing rotary cutter ranges say the recent Highland Show proved to be a productive event for their business.



Simon Richard said, “We enjoyed an excellent four days culminating in the appointment of three new dealers for our range.


"They were Kelso & Lothian Harvesters, Houndridge covering the Lothians Borders and Northumberland; A L Agri in Forfar who will service that area; and Inverness based Farm & Forestry Equipment Services, covering the Highlands."


GBN to follow developments in run-up
GBN contributor Ross Biddiscombe

B2B website Golf Business News will be following all the major business developments in the countdown to the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Paris this September.


B2B website Golf Business News has announced that they will be following all the major business developments in the countdown to the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Paris this September - by publishing a series of 10 ‘Ryder Cup Business Specials’.


GBN say their series of in-depth features will deliver Ryder Cup insights, comments and details from both sides of the Atlantic on this year’s match.


Written and compiled by GBN editor Geoff Russell and Ryder Cup author and GBN contributor Ross Biddiscombe, GBN say each Ryder Cup Newsletter will "unravel the event’s commercial mysteries and delve into its business background with news, features, analysis and historical perspectives of golf’s greatest team competition."


Regular newsletters will be published between now and Friday 28 September when the first match tees off and all GBN’s archive of Ryder Cup business news will be available on the dedicated website page


Content will include:

  • The latest ‘Big Story’ in the Ryder Cup’s business build-up;
  • A ‘Where we are today’ report from the organisers as preparations continue;
  • A company profile of one of the event’s prominent sponsors or commercial partners;
  • Interviews with key business men and women with a Ryder Cup connection;
  • The tournament’s remarkable history of financial successes and failures;
  • A comprehensive round-up of all the business news related to the match.
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