January 10 marked the 90th anniversary of the Grounds Management Association, which was first established by 11 founding members in 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 organization 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 organization 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 organization 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 organization 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.