Former Student Named As Young Groundsman of the Year
A former East Durham College student has picked up a highly prestigious national award.
Martin Stephenson, 26, from Seaham, has been named as the Rigby Taylor/Top Green Young Groundsman of the Year by the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) at a recent ceremony held at Milton Keynes Dons FC’s stadiummk.
The former horticulture student, who was awarded the IOG’s Most Promising Student award last year, saw off tough competition from two other finalists this year to bring home his second high-profile award.
Martin, who studied at the College’s Houghall Campus, leaving in 2013, now works as Grounds Assistant Manager at Sunderland’s Ashbrooke Sports Club.
Judges at the IOG Annual Awards, the Oscars in the world of grounds keeping, praised Martin for the key role he plays at Ashbrooke in the maintenance and management of two rugby pitches, a full-size football pitch, a cricket pitch, three artificial tennis courts/one five-a-side football pitch and a bowling green, along with a number of other maintenance jobs around the grounds.
Martin said: “I was almost lost for words.
“Even being nominated for the Young Groundsman of the Year award is an incredible honour, particularly given the extraordinary strength of the field this year, but to win against such strong competition is just amazing.
“I feel humble, but at the same time incredibly proud too.
“With so many good candidates to choose from, the judges must have had an unbelievably difficult job – and I’d like to thank everyone who was involved with helping me achieve this award.
“Very few things in life are entirely the work of just one person – and this is no exception, so I must also pay tribute to the enormous contributions made by Bert Boston at Ashbrooke Sports Club and the horticultural staff at East Durham College; without whom none of this would have been possible and I certainly wouldn’t be where I am now without them.”
“We also mustn’t forget that these awards are not simply about this year’s winners; they tell us a lot about our grounds industry too and for as long as there are awards like this around – and so much good competition for them – then we’ve little need to worry about the future of the Institute of Groundsmanship.
“I’m accepting this award for myself of course, but I’m also accepting it on behalf of Ashbrooke Sports Club – and from where I stand, its future looks bright.”
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