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Words: Kate Chapman
Featured in the November 2011 issue

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With the London 2012 Olympic Games less than one year away, one North Lincolnshire business has played a major part in getting the new main stadium ready to host the ‘greatest show on earth’ next summer.

County Turf, based in Appleby, near Scunthorpe, was awarded the contract to custom grow the sports greenscape turf for the infield of the 80,000-seater venue, which was completed under budget and ahead of schedule at the end of March.

The company was one of 240 British firms to have been involved in the construction of the colossal stadium, set in the heart of Stratford, north-east of London city centre, which cost £486m.

In total 360 rolls of a special perennial rye grass, smooth stalk meadow grass and fescue grass seeds blend were used to complete the 6,300 square metre infield, which will be used for field events including the javelin, hammer and discus. The final piece was laid by Interntational Olympic Committee member and four times silver medalist sprinter Frankie Fredericks during a special ceremony.

The London stadium is the most sustainable ever built. With steel a resource in short supply, the build was made seventy-five per cent lighter in terms of steel use than other stadiums. It also features a low-carbon concrete, made from industrial waste.

The North Lincolnshire turf has also be chosen to feature in the ‘Made by Britain’ campaign fronted by Business Secretary Vince Cable to showcase our country’s innovation and ingenuity.

County Turf managing director Andy Fraser, who founded the company in 1995, has already paid a visit to the new Olympic Stadium, which will play host to the world’s top athletes next July.

Speaking about the Olympic contract, Mr Fraser said it had enabled the company to safeguard employees’ futures during a difficult economic time.

He added: “The contract has been excellent news for County Turf as we have been able to safeguard existing jobs in a crucial time where the bulk of our business that is based in the building and housing markets has seen a large decline.

“Without specialist projects, such as the Olympic contract, redundancies would have been inevitable. Instead we can retain our experienced and dedicated staff for the ongoing benefit of the company for the medium to the long term.”

Through the Made in Britain campaign the Appleby turf will feature in an online interactive map to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace.

Every MP was asked to nominate a product made in their constituency as part of the campaign, which is designed to promote UK manufacturing excellence.

Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin said of his nomination: “Nothing can be more English than green grass and the fact that turf grown in North Lincolnshire is being used at the Olympic Stadium is testament to the quality of the product.”

County Turf is now one of the biggest growers of high-quality turf for use in sports and landscaping. Since being set up the firm has gone from growing thirty to 1,300 acres of turf and now employs twenty-six people.

Mr Fraser, who has a BSc in Agriculture and comes from a farming background, says the business has been able to thrive thanks to its attention to detail and an emphasis on quality.

He said: “The company prides itself on the quality of each and every roll of turf it harvests. All the turf is treated for Annual Meadow Grass and undergoes a comprehensive fungicide programme during the winter months to ensure it is free from disease.

“We’ve been members of the Turf Growers’ Association for fourteen years and earned a reputation for quality and consistency having invested in fully trained staff and the latest technology to ensure their turf is grown, maintained and harvested to the highest possible standards.”

As well as the Olympic project County Turf has also supplied turf to many of the country’s most prestigious sporting venues including the Gleneagles resort, the Belfry, Silverstone Circuit, Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium and Croke Park in Dublin. Other high profile customers include football clubs Bolton Wanderers, Chelsea FC and Newcastle United. The company has also worked in Denmark, at the country’s national Parken Stadium in Copenhagen.

The new Olympic Stadium will be used for athletics and paralympic athletics, the opening and closing ceremonies and once the games are over West Ham United Football Club will assume ownership of the venue.

For more information about County Turf and its services visit www.countyturf.co.uk

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