Derek Walder, former groundsman at Wimbledon FC and for almost 40 years site manager of the annual SALTEX Sports Amenity & Landscape Trade Exhibition, has won the IOG Everris & Syngenta Lifetime Achievement Award at the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Industry Awards, being held in partnership with the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA).
In a prestigious ceremony at Milton Keynes’ stadiummk hosted by talkSPORT Radio presenter Mark Saggers, the award was presented to Derek by Syngenta’s Caroline Carroll and Ed Carter of Everris in front of an audience of more than 400 of the UK’s and Europe’s leading groundscare experts, as well as dignitaries from the governing bodies of sport and influential sports administrators.
Derek, a past member of numerous IOG committees and the IOG board of directors, plus stints as national chairman and president of the IOG, spent 26 years as the grounds manager at Wimbledon FC’s training site and for almost 40 years has been site manager at SALTEX exhibition.
Awarded the British Empire Medal in 1991 for his services to groundsmanship, Derek has also regularly written, lectured and broadcast on all matters relating to turf care – including running lawn clinics for the BBC Gardeners World Live exhibition and having involvement with the annual Chelsea Show as well as the Britain in Bloom competition.
Derek says that one classic memory of his time at Wimbledon was when the club won the FA Cup and he was entrusted with the cup’s safekeeping overnight until it was collected for the next day’s open-top bus parade. He says he got very little sleep that night worrying about the responsibility of having such a valuable trophy in the house!
However, it is also as much for Derek’s long-standing and voluntary service as the SALTEX site manager that he is best known by many. His resolve has earned him the nickname of ‘Mr SALTEX’ and, indeed, this year he won the Unsung hero award from the Association of Event Organisers.
Unbelievably, Derek’s sacrifice of his holidays and spare time to SALTEX amounts to a total of over four and a half years!
Commenting, IOG chief executive Geoff Webb, says: “Derek’s award is richly deserved. He has shown unswerving dedication to the success of SALTEX and for the benefit of all of the show’s stakeholders. I know this focus will continue next year as the event moves to a new location at the NEC, bringing with it a new set of challenges which Derek and his team will undoubtedly be prepared for.”
2014 IOG Awards, in partnership with BIGGA www.iogawards.com