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Ampleforth College subject of large Spider sightings

03 August 2009

Ampleforth College near Thirsk in North Yorkshire, has taken delivery of a Ransomes Spider slope mower from local Ransomes Jacobsen dealer, IC Distributors.

The college, which is the largest Roman Catholic mixed boarding school in the UK, was opened in 1802 and is run by Benedictine Monks. The college bought the specialist remote controlled mower for maintaining the steep slopes and banks within its' extensive grounds.

Head Groundsman John Wilkie was born in Filey and began his career in groundsmanship at Scarborough Cricket Club. After a 10 year spell at Darlington Football & Cricket Club he moved to Ampleforth College, where he has been for almost 30 years. John heads a team of four groundsmen and three gardeners and is responsible for the maintenance of all the sports pitches, activity areas and the grounds within the 2,000 acre estate.

John says, “The Spider is a great piece of equipment and does exactly what it promised. It has the power to climb almost any slope, the finish is good and the remote control is easy to operate. We have a steep bank outside of the college theatre, which I doubted it would climb, but it tackled it with ease."

John continued, “It’s important to understand how the machine can be used, its numerous plus points, its limitations and the benefits that it offers. As responsible employers we have a duty to pursue all avenues with regard to the health and safety of our team. Hand and arm vibration is a particularly important issue and the Spider, being remotely operated, alleviates this. Also, it removes any issues of operators sitting on ride-on machines at acute angles and also removes the stress on hips, knees, ankles and spine associated with strimming operations. Yes, it’s a very able addition to our grounds care fleet.”

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