Amenity Sprayer Operator Of The Year 2017

Meet the three category winners

At our Annual Conference on Thursday 12th October 2017, we announced the three category winners for the 2017 Amenity Sprayer Operator of the Year Awards. Sponsored by ICL and Syngenta, this is the third year of running our prestigious awards which aim to recognise top sprayer operators across the amenity industry, to share their best practice to enhance standards for all and to demonstrate the professionalism within our sector.

The overall winner will be announced at the BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition which takes place at the end of January 2018. Here’s a recap of the three category winners and runners up…

Sportsturf category

  • Winner – Chris Phillips, Complete Weed Control
  • Runner Up – Andy Baker from Ely Golf Club

Landscape & Amenity Knapsack Operations category

  • Winner – Nathan Hume who works for SH Goss Ltd.
  • Runner Up – Tony Robinson from Southern Horticulture

Landscape & Amenity Mounted Sprayer operations

  • Winner – Lee Harrison from Complete Weed Control
  • Runner Up – Robert Alexander from JSD Rail

Sportsturf category: Chris Phillips, Complete Weed Control

hris Phillips first joined Complete Weed Control in 2001 as an operator based in their South Wales region. Working as a Weed It Operator, he became skilled in pavement herbicide application. He was able to quickly grasp the mechanics of the machinery he was operating and gained further expertise during a trip to the Netherlands. Returning from Holland, he was able to strip down and fix within the Weed It head and correct any technical faults within the computer. This was a very useful skill when the fleet of six Weed It tools required servicing!

Chris was also interested in the Fine Turf side of the organisation, and showed aptitude both here and within golf courses before leaving Complete Weed Control for another role elsewhere. After returning again to the organisation, Chris’ ambition was rewarded when he and his wife acquired the Central Wales franchise. After achieving excellent financial growth and gaining geographical growth, they amalgamated with South Wales in 2015.

Chris is extremely proud to have won the Sportsturf category and regards it as a major achievement in his career to date.

My day always begins with…

An early start! In the summer months, I often start my working day at 4am. It’s a nice and quiet part of the day, suited to spraying as the winds are usually at their lightest, and I can get started before the golfers begin their first round. However, it does involve some preparation the night before. So at the end of the previous day, I always prepare for the following morning, and ensure that the machinery is ready to make the most of the early start.

Typical activities for my day include…

Chris is responsible for the majority of CWC’s fine turf spraying. He’s a strong advocate of accurate application, and regards it as key to maintaining product approvals as well as providing protection for the environment. He said, “We need these products to maintain high quality playing surfaces; if we don’t get it right there’s a greater risk that legislation will further restrict their use. With latest spraying techniques and machinery, we can be far more precise about targeting the areas we actually want to control. That means getting better value from the product applied, and avoiding impact on the surrounding environment.”

My favourite part of the day is…

My favourite part of the day is the early morning.  I love the tranquillity of that time of day and it allows me to crack on with the job in hand.  It also gives me a little time to myself to help me plan the rest of my day and think about the things that need doing, and how best to tackle them.

I can’t get through the day without…

I couldn’t get through the day without a couple of things really. My two business partners are a huge support to me. One of them being my wife (Sarah) and the other being Alan Abel who is a wealth of experience and knowledge who I can call on. I also love my radio! Music helps me stay upbeat and positive, and helps the hours go past during the long days.

Landscape & Amenity Knapsack Operations category: Nathan Hume, SH Goss Ltd

Nathan joined S.H.Goss in 1994 at the age of 22. Over the last 23 years, he has progressed through the ranks of the company, gaining his PA1 and PA6A in 1994, PA6AW and PA02A in 1995, PA02ST in 2000 and PA09 in 2016.

During his career, Nathan developed a passion for invasive species management. He has successfully treated and eradicated a wide variety of Invasive and Aquatic Weed Species, in a varied range of situations. He has also been able to successfully put in place management programmes for a wide range of clients in the public and utility sector. Nathan is able to provide expert knowledge and advice in the identification of both notifiable weeds and also rare flora and fauna that should be protected. The day to day work carried out by Nathan covers a wide spectrum of the Amenity sector. A keen naturalist, in 2013 he became the company ecologist and has won two Essex Wildlife Trust living landscape awards.

My day always begins with…

Tea! Without it I will die and shrivel like a sprayed weed. I’m a news and weather junky so I usually know what the weather is going to do for the week and plan a week ahead, but they are often wrong, so I check on a daily basis.

Typical activities for my day include…

Safely putting everyone to work making sure they have everything they need. Pre-spraying and post spraying checks are a must to make sure everything flows the next day. I like things tidy! I record everything I do on a daily basis. I’d warn against trying to remember what you’ve used at the end of the week.

My favourite part of the day is…

Going back to my own garden which I treasure. I have designed my garden for the wildlife and 30 minutes here is all I need to destress.

I can’t get through the day without…

Music of some kind! I have a huge collection on my itouch, although I might start buying vinyl again soon. I’m also a big Billericay Town FC football fan so I follow them home and away. Come on you blues!

Landscape & Amenity Mounted Sprayer operations: Lee Harrison, Complete Weed Control

Lee joined Complete Weed Control South Wales five years ago. While his previous jobs included roles in hospitality, forestry, a delicatessen and a fishmonger – it’s his role in weed control that is truly his niche. Lee’s precision skills have become legendary within the company, while his paperwork is second to none and no less precise, with an accurate record maintained of every hour of every day of his work. He has expert knowledge of all aspects of pesticide application, particularly calibration.

Winning this category of the Amenity Sprayer of the Year awards is a real honour for Lee. He believes that it has helped to focus all of the operators, helping them to keep on their toes when it comes to all aspects of pesticide application and the way it is regarded by the general public.

My day always begins with…

As a contractor, Lee’s workload is very diverse and can take him to a wide range of different sites. However, each day always begins in the same way. Before setting off for a job he always completes the same routine checks. He walks around his vehicle to carry out a visual check and safety assessment. He then loads the chemicals and equipment required for that day’s job, before completing a site assessment.

Typical activities for my day include…

Diversity is again the keyword for Lee’s days! One day he might spray with a knapsack, another might involve a boom application. It all depends on the location and type of treatment required. There’s one common theme however, and that’s driving. With such a big variety in the type of clients, his job takes him far and wide.

My favourite part of the day is…

Lee’s daily challenge is also his favourite part of the day – he often never quite knows what’s ahead, but he enjoys finding out! Last minute changes can also occur, so even a planned job can be switched for something else if priorities change.

I can’t get through the day without…

Lots of coffee! After he arrives on site and makes an assessment of the job, he like to ensure that he knows where his coffee fix will be coming from! Outside of caffeine, Lee believes that clarity and good communication are essential components to getting through the day.