Dennis and SISIS are celebrating an impressive decade of groundcare seminars this year. In this article, we look at the history and development of the seminars and how they have proved to be so beneficial for so many of the unsung heroes in a wide variety of sports turf sectors.
The ever-popular Dennis and SISIS groundcare seminars, are first and foremost, education-based events, supported by expert speakers with both indoor presentations and outdoor practical sessions. The seminars aim to connect like-minded people where they can find advice, learn new skills and techniques as well as offer fantastic networking opportunities. A large number of groundcare individuals have significantly benefitted from attending the seminars over the years including volunteers and professionals representing schools, sports clubs, local authorities and contractors.
The humble origins of the seminars can be traced back long before this ten-year period when both Dennis and SISIS were operating as separate entities and hosted educational groundcare events for their respective customer bases. However, in 2011, SISIS was acquired by the Howardson Group to sit alongside Dennis as a division to provide the groundcare industry with a truly comprehensive range of British manufactured turf maintenance products. It was at this point in history that the two manufacturers combined their extensive knowledge and expertise and the groundcare seminars were taken to another level.
This monumental year saw a series of seminars addressing a wide range of sports turf topics including a dedicated bowls seminar which took place in North Kessock, Scotland; and a cricket themed seminar which took place at Uxbridge Cricket Club in Middlesex, London.
These early seminars set the precedent and over the years, they continued to evolve. From winter pitch maintenance, to early spring maintenance; from renovations to soil core clinics – the seminars have, and continue to, offer advice in a number of groundcare aspects.
As the seminars grew in stature, support and reputation, so too did the illustrious and extensive list of expert speakers. Take for example the expert panel at the most recent seminar held at Durham County Cricket Club’s Emirates Riverside which included Vic Demain (Durham CCC), Karl McDermott (MCC, Lord’s), Jim Dawson (BT Murrayfield) and Keith Kent (Head Pitch Advisor to Rugby Groundsmen Connected).
From the first seminar in North Kessock to the most recent at the Emirates Riverside, the series of seminars have accumulated some truly astonishing statistics.
- 87 venues across the country
- 550 hours of education
- Expert speakers covering 300 informative sessions
- Over 4,800 delegates
Whether a groundsman or a greenkeeper in employment or a volunteer; whether highly experienced or just starting out in the industry; throughout this ten-year period so many people associated with the maintenance of sports turf have benefited from attending the Dennis and SISIS seminars. One look at some of the testimonials which have been gathered over the years are certainly testament to this.
Vic Demain has been a long-term supporter of the seminars and has been a speaker at many over the years: “Having been involved with the Dennis and SISIS cricket groundcare seminars since their launch in 2011, it has been fascinating to see the growth of the events, together with the interest shown by the industry.
“The beauty of many of these events is being able to share time with likeminded folk, making new contacts and discovering that no matter what level one works at, we all have the same passion. The interaction between presenters and delegates at these events will give the audience a desire to get back onto their grounds.”
Commenting on the seminars, Keith Kent explained why he feels they are so valuable: “I think that as part of everybody’s education, every day should be a school day and these seminars, where there are such high-quality speakers, are a vital opportunity to progress.”
Commenting on a bowls seminar held at the Backworth Miners Welfare Bowls Club in Newcastle upon Tyne, Robert Blacklock from North Tyneside local authority said: “I’ve found the day to be extremely useful and informative with excellent presentations. I do not have a lot of experience in this field and have recently started some courses on turf maintenance. The seminar was not overwhelming, and it was pitched at the correct level.”
Nigel Pearce, Head Groundsman at Lechlade Cricket Club, attended a seminar at Gloucestershire County Cricket Club along with his chairman and revealed that it was beneficial for the both of them: “For me it was great to catch up with a number of fellow groundsmen who I already knew and it was good to meet new ones as well. It was also really interesting listening to speakers like Chris Wood and having the opportunity to go out and look at the square. My chairman also came along with me today and I’m really pleased because he has learnt a lot about what I do and received an insight into the issues I may encounter on a day-to-day basis.”
Speaking at a renovation seminar held at St Albans School, Woollam Trust Playing Fields, Lee Marshallsay, Grounds Manager at Charterhouse School said: “It’s been very beneficial for my team and I like the fact that it is aimed at everyone – it’s not just for those in the top positions. To get everyone together from grass roots upwards works really well. I think the indoor seminars and the outdoor practical demonstrations have provided a good mix. You get to see the machines in action and many people here wouldn’t have seen that before so for them to have more of an idea of what equipment is out there is ideal.”
Derek Traill of Cricket Scotland, summarised the seminars perfectly after attending the most recent event in Durham: “The key message coming out of today’s event is that it is all about communication and to strive to learn off one another – we learn from one another’s experiences, failures and successes and from these we can build on them and improve as one,” he said.
“I’m extremely proud to be celebrating ten years of groundcare seminars – they have a long history and a great tradition,” said Roger Moore, Sales and Marketing Manager. “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 sites. Over the years the events have been a tremendous success and I am looking forward to continuing our support for the groundcare community.”