Interview with 'Head Groundsman', Tom Hyde
As part of #GroundsWeek run by @Grounds Management Association we have interviewed Grange Farm’s ‘Head Groundsman’ Tom Hyde.
Tom tells us what his typical day is like, the challenges he faces in the job and why people should pay Grange Farm a visit.
1. Please Introduce yourself and tell us how long you’ve been involved with the Grange Farm Centre
This is my sixth year working as the Head Groundsman/Deputy Site Manager at the Grange Farm Centre in Chigwell. I have a Level 3 City and Guilds Diploma in Sports Turf management and am currently studying for an RHS qualification in Horticulture.
2. What’s your typical day like?
My typical day changes with the seasons. The weather conditions and available daylight hours often have a big influence on what I am doing and when. At the moment I will arrive between 7 and 8am and the first job will be to feed our three sheep which also gives me the opportunity to walk around the site and check everything is ok and make a note of any tasks that need doing. I will then turn my attention to the football pitches. That could be divoting, brushing, mowing or marking out depending on the day of the week. We’ve always got a number of ongoing projects and I’ll use the afternoon to continue the work on one or more. Recently we’ve been clearing an area of woodland which will be used by the local Scout group as well as managing the growth of our grass meadows with the intention of increasing wildflower growth.
3. What do you enjoy most about the job?
It’s the variety. As a small team we often get the opportunity to turn our hands to different tasks which keeps things interesting. It also means that I’m always learning and developing skills which is important to me.
4. What challenges do you currently face with regards to pitch preparation?
We’re always at the mercy of the weather and the recent trend for greater extremes is definitely a challenge. We’re coming towards the end of the football season at the moment so we’re trying to manage the deterioration of the playing surfaces after months of heavy wear and tear. As the temperatures increase we’ll be able to get some grass seed down and repair some of the most worn and bare areas in order to maintain the best standards possible until the very end of the season.
5. In your opinion, why should people pay a visit to the Grange Farm Centre and its surrounding land?
It’s a little oasis of calm away from busyness of London life. It offers an opportunity to immerse yourself in a little bit of nature. This became more apparent and more important during the Covid lockdowns as more and more people chose to spend their restricted outdoor time at Grange Farm. And many of those people continue to return here now that life is back to normal.
6. What are you most looking forward to in the spring and summer months?
Every year I most look forward to seeing the whole site burst into life and colour. The winter months can be a bit bleak so it gives everyone a lift when the daffodils and the tulips emerge. I also enjoy seeing the swifts return each year. They’re very agile and playful birds and like to swoop in front of my ride on mower.
7. Would you encourage people to find out more about a career in Grounds Management? Why?
Definitely. We know that time spent outdoors is good for the mind and body and it’s very rewarding to see people appreciating and enjoying what you’ve been working on.