Mr Neale Celebrates First Year as Head Groundsman
Life hasn’t changed much for our Head Groundsman, Mr Neale, who continues to show up to work each day, a smile on his face and enthusiasm for the day ahead.
“I can’t think of anywhere else that I would rather be than King’s Hall” he says. “It’s such a lovely place to be able to come to work to every day, especially during difficult times such as these.”
Roger, who has been in post since March last year, is very much a local boy. He attended Heathfield School as a boy, after which he started his training as a greenkeeper at Taunton Vale Golf Club, where he also played for many years. He then moved to Enmore Park, where he completed his apprenticeship and stayed for seven years before transferring to Taunton and Pickeridge GC.
“I was a golf addict and at my best got down to playing off a handicap of 3” he laments. “However, after 23 years working as a greenkeeper I felt that I needed a change. I always thought that King’s Hall was a beautiful place, and so when the role was advertised I applied and was lucky enough to be appointed.”
The King’s Hall grounds cover about 20 acres, which means that, no matter the weather, there’s always something to do. In the summer this often includes preparing the pitches for sports fixtures, while also ensuring the grounds are kept in good condition. In the winter there is a particular focus on refurbishment, clearing debris and marking pitches.
The latter is a particular favourite for Roger, who is also an avid sports fan:
“I love sport of any kind and nothing gives me greater pleasure than, after putting in the hard graft, preparing the pitches and then wandering up and watching the pupils playing. They may only be nine or ten, but it’s live sport! Watching the children playing on the pitches that I have been involved with really is the icing on the cake for me.”
He added: “I really enjoy being a part of the King’s Schools community and like to get involved with other activities at school. Last summer I helped out at the King’s College cricket festival; it was fantastic to be a part of such a prestigious event.”
Since the lockdown, Roger has been going it alone, which of course is no mean feat considering the size and scale of the school. However, this does means that there have been plenty of jobs to keep him busy. Looking back at his thoughts for the Summer Term, he said:
“After Easter the girls would historically play rounders, but this year they were going to be playing cricket along with the boys. To help them achieve this I had prepared ten wickets around the grounds, which sadly will no longer be required.”
“It has, of course, been disappointing, but we just have to stay positive. When I found out that I would be lone working I was naturally worried, but I am now coming around to the mindset that I can only do what I can. When I drive in to work every morning, I feel privileged to have this job and to be part of the King’s Hall community.”
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