Life at Roffey Park: A View from Max Love, Groundsman Apprentice.


May 20th, 2019

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For many who visit our Horsham HQ, our beautiful grounds are one of the most compelling aspects of a joining residential programme with us. Max Love has been an apprentice at Roffey Park for the past 18 months,  working through the seasons to keep those grounds looking smart. Soon to be leaving Roffey Park, Max talks us through how he has found his apprenticeship:

RP              How did you find out about Roffey Park’s Groundsman Apprenticeship?

Max            It was actually through a family friend who knew the Head Groundsman at Roffey Park. I was interested in the apprenticeship so got in contact and arranged to come in for a meeting. He walked me round the grounds, and I thought it looked really good. Before Roffey Park I did an engineering apprenticeship, which I liked but it wasn’t what I really wanted to do. I felt that I really wanted to work outdoors, so after I’d travelled for a while, I thought it was a good time to start a new career and Roffey Park was a really good place to do it. The size of the grounds were really nice, big enough but not too big. Plus, the fact that I was working one to one with the Heads Groundsman, made it really personal training. I felt like I could learn a lot.

RP              What sort of things have you been doing as part of your apprenticeship?

Max            We do quite a lot here. Work in the kitchen garden. We look after all the grounds, there’s 40 acres in total. So, we do a bit of mowing, planting, weeding. All the basic stuff as well as more interesting stuff. I like the planting, all the summer bedding and the spring bedding. That’s fun. Plus mowing as well on the tractors, the ride-on is good fun.

RP              What’s a typical day for you at Roffey Park?

Max            Well, that’s the great thing about Roffey Park, no day is the same. We have certain jobs that we have to do every week. Like watering you have to always do, check the swimming pool, things like that. Obviously, you’ve got different jobs for different seasons and we’ll have big projects that we’ll do sometimes, so it’s really varied, I’d say, especially by the seasons. So winter is obviously the quiet time, so that’s when we’d be more indoors doing big projects, which isn’t just gardening stuff. So, we could be…painting in winter. We put up all the Christmas decorations, which is nice. We maintain all the equipment over winter. Then it gets busier, in Spring. which means planting all the bulbs, preparing the soil for the summer. Summer is really busy with mowing, planting out the summer plants, all the vegetables, watering loads. And then, in Autumn, you’ve got lots to clear up with the leaves, cutting back, pruning. I’ve also done loads of jet-washing!

RP              What qualifications have you done whilst here? And how has Roffey Park supported you?

Max            The first one I did was the NVQ level Two Grounds and Green Spaces. Then I wanted to do something a bit more in detail, which is the RHS course that I’m doing at the moment – Level Two Principles of Horticulture, that’s theory-based. Roffey Park has funded both courses. I also have every Thursday off to do my college work and time off for exams. You’ve got to remember that you’ve got to put in time outside of work as well. Especially for the exams.

RP              How have you found being at Roffey Park?

Max            Yes, I’ve really loved it. I really love being out of doors, and the grounds here are beautiful. And the people, I’d say. I feel like I get on with everybody very well. It’s just a good atmosphere, a good vibe. A good place to work really. After I leave Roffey Park I’m moving onto landscaping, which is another step up I’d say, in terms of learning new stuff as well, because I feel like I’ve learnt a lot of the gardening side here, looking after a kitchen garden and all the plants and now this is the next stage where I can hopefully combine the two.

RP              What advice would you give someone who’s considering an apprenticeship at Roffey Park?

Max            Yes, I’d say if you’ve got the opportunity, I think you should definitely go for it, because like I’ve said, it’s a really good place to work and I think you would learn a lot. If you’re successful make sure you talk to the different members of staff, because when I first joined, obviously like when anyone joins a new job, you’re a bit shy. But when you speak to people that you don’t normally work with; you find you have more in common with them. And employees are really interested in the grounds.

RP              Would you recommend the apprenticeship scheme at Roffey Park?

Max            Yes, definitely. 100%. Ten out of ten