Derek Walder, former groundsman at Wimbledon FC and for almost 40 years site manager of the annual Saltex trade exhibition has won the IOG Everris & Syngenta Lifetime Achievement Award at the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Industry Awards, held in partnership with the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA).
He was presented the award 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, at a ceremony at Milton Keynes’ stadiummk on 4 December, hosted by talkSPORT Radio presenter Mark Saggers.
It is the second time in six months that Walder has been honoured for his work on the show, for which he only gets paid expenses. In July he was awarded the Unsung Hero Award by the Association of Events Organisers (AEO) at its annual Excellence Awards in July.
If the amount of free time given up by Walder for his work on Saltex was added up, it would come to more than four and a half years. It was a dedication to the cause which earned him the name ‘Mr Saltex’.
IOG chief executive Geoff Webb, said: "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."
Walder is also a past member of numerous IOG committees and the IOG board of directors and has been national chairman and president of the IOG. He was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1991 for his services to groundsmanship and 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 working on both the Chelsea Flowewr Show and Britain in Bloom.