10 January 2024 marked 90 years since the Grounds Management Association (GMA) was first established by eleven founding members at the London Stone Pub on Cannon Street in the City of London.
On that day, ten original founders joined W H Bowles BEM, head groundsman of Eton College, at the London Stone Pub on Cannon Street in the City of London to form the National Association of Groundsmen.
The purpose of the association was to improve the status of groundsmen and the standard of groundsmanship across the UK and, since then, the association has worked hard, and adapted, to suit the needs of the ever-changing grounds management industry.
Since its formation, the National Association of Groundsmen developed with the changing needs of the sector. In 1938, the organisation hosted its first Annual Exhibition, now known as SALTEX, at the Hurlingham Club which has continued to grow despite an eight-year hiatus during the Second World War and a two-year break during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The first National Association of Groundsmen qualifications were launched for the industry in 1953 and have developed along with changing practices and technological advances into the comprehensive suite of GMA training courses and qualifications, recognised by the Department for Education’s prestigious matrix Standard, on offer today.
The organisation itself developed, becoming the Institute of Groundsmanship in 1969 and changing again in 2020 to become the Grounds Management Association.
Along with the creation of its renowned trade show, SALTEX, and development of top-class education to advance the industry’s skills, the organisation has worked hard over its 90-year history to support and raise the profile of the sector. This has included launching the Industry Awards in 2008, creating the GMA’s Young Board of Directors in 2011, and hosting the first Schools into Stadia event in 2015 to introduce young people to careers in the sector.
For nine decades the GMA remains the leading not-for-profit membership organisation representing grounds managers, grounds personnel, grounds maintenance managers, greenkeepers and all others involved in the management of sports pitches, landscape, and amenity facilities in the UK.
With the association reaching such a significant milestone, the GMA will be undertaking a number of celebratory activities throughout the year, including:
- Introducing a commemorative brand to celebrate the association’s formation.
- Launching a new website – a new engaging and user-friendly platform that will optimise users’ and GMA members’ digital experience.
- Launching refined membership packages to simplify and improve the GMA’s offerings to individuals, organisations, and businesses working across the grounds management sector.
- Delivering a new GMA Ambassador programme, that aims to better represent all corners of the sector to help raise the profile of the industry.
Commenting on the GMA’s 90th anniversary, Geoff Webb said:
“The National Association of Groundsmen was formed by key individuals working in the industry to raise the profile of the sector and improve the standard of its work across the nation.
“Over 90 years, the association has adapted and evolved with the changing world and now, the UK grounds management sector is seen as the world-leader when it comes to sports turf management. This achievement has been made possible through 90 years of support for the sector, including 77 SALTEX exhibitions, industry-leading educational resources, advice and support for sports clubs across all levels through the PAS programme, and more.
“With support from key sporting National Governing Bodies, the Grounds Management Association as it is now called, has grown into a key part of the nation’s enjoyment of sport and our ethos of ‘making sport possible’ has never been more relevant than it is today.
“We thank everyone who plays a part in this hard-working and essential industry, from volunteers and professionals to businesses, and will be marking this year with a number of developments that will benefit the sector, including a new membership offering and website coming later this year, as well as a series of activities throughout the year.”