Harry Boxell

Age: 30

Questions and Answers

Our college overlooked a sports field, before lessons started I used to look out the window and watch the Groundsman striping up the football pitches on his machine with his labrador walking next to him and thought, wow I could do that one day.
I never knew exactly what I wanted to do when I left school but liked the idea of working outdoors. I started looking in my local newspaper for local jobs, just after I left school, and saw a Groundsman job advertised at one of the local colleges in Cambridge which I liked the look and idea of and applied for it. Unfortunately the Groundsman there was looking for someone with slightly more experience which could manage the place while he was on holiday so he put me in touch with a local golf course, as he knew they was looking for someone. I went for an interview at the golf course and got the job.
I have completed my NVQ Level 2 in Sports Turf and Horticulture. I have also completed the IOG Introduction To Racecourse Management, Intermediate Racecourse Management and Advanced Racecourse Management Certificates. Also my PA1, PA6, PA4g and PA2 spraying certificates, Manual Handling, Ladder Safety, First Aid AT Work, 10 Tonne Digger And Dumper Tickets and a few IOG short Courses in Cricket and Winter pitches.
I would like to do my Level 3 and 4 in Sports Turf and maybe look at doing a degree.
Working at Longholes involves a wide range of day to day jobs. Longholes is owned by Sheikh Fahad a Qatari Prince. It is basically an old farm split into three different yards. The main yard, which is the oldest part of the farm. The yearling yard which is a modern part, which stables yearlings and the top barns, which is the most modern part of the farm. Each yard needs its own bedding, feed and hay for the horses, which I have to keep on top of and make sure they never run out. I have to cut and maintain the paddocks and rails, lawns and garden areas. Maintain a grass gallop, woodchip gallop and polytrack gallop. Carry out basic maintenance in the stables or barns such as changing light bulbs or heat lamps, putting up hooks or shelves etc. In all Longholes is spread over 220 acres.
The most challenging part of my job is growing season. Due to the amount of land that is used for horseracing in Newmarket a lot of the studs or racing yards have their groundsman or maintenance man living onsite and can be on call whenever they are needed. Unfortunately I don’t live on site and work on my own from 8:00 until 4:30, which makes it very hard to stay on top of keeping all the paddocks and lawns looking their best as well as watering the wood chip gallop with a tractor and bowser and also harrowing and rolling it. These jobs are very time consuming and by the time I have finished cutting all the paddocks it’s time to start again!
I like the finished product. I use a Major flail mower with a roller on the paddocks and it does put a lovely pattern into the paddocks and make it look really nice when they are finished. Also I use a rotary pedestrian mower with a roller on the lawns that gives a nice finish. Along with the odd comment here and there at how nice the place is looking.
I think getting the job I am in now. I have always wanted to be the person that calls the shots on a day to day basis. Although I don’t have to distribute jobs to other staff as I work on my own I have always wanted to be in charge and now I am kind of in charge of myself. If I don’t do the work the work won’t get done which makes me work harder.
I would love to win the lottery within five years and be sat on a beach somewhere hot. If that fails I would like to complete a few more IOG courses and increase my qualifications within the industry.
I admire so many people within the industry but I think the one that stands out most has to be Paul Burgess. Wow what else can I say? I have never personally met him but I have spoken to a few people that have and none of them has a bad word to say about the guy. I follow him on Twitter and Instagram and I am always looking at his work in envy. Doing what he does would be the pinnacle of a groundsman career.
I am fairly new to it to be honest but I like the idea of inspiring others into doing a job myself and others love. I will also get the opportunity in meeting different people within the industry and sharing new ideas as well as learning from others.
I have a huge passion for sport! I still play Saturday football. I raced moto cross from the age of 6 to the age of 24. Unfortunately due to the expense of this sport I had to retire once I had a mortgage but still enjoy going to watch from time to time.