Oakham School, based in Rutland, East Midlands, is a vibrant, fully co-educational boarding and day school for 10–18-year-olds. The school’s strengths lie in the spectacularly wide range of academic and co-curricular opportunities provided.
Sport has always been an essential part of Oakham School life and it has an enviable reputation for excellent coaching and mentoring in a variety of sports. Equally impressive and highly regarded are the sports facilities and stunning grounds which equate to just over 75 acres.
Richard Dexter is the man responsible for maintaining these areas. Originally from a greenkeeping background, Richard joined the school 15 years ago and, in that time, he has worked his way up to the position of Head of Grounds and Gardens.
According to Richard, it was the “variety of all the different sports surfaces”’ which enticed him away from greenkeeping. He admits to having his work cut out but wouldn’t have it any other way.
With a team of ten groundstaff to oversee, health and safety is of the utmost importance, and it is for this reason that Richard started exploring the possibility of battery-powered equipment.
“We wanted to reduce hand-arm vibrations (HAVs) across the site and make sure that staff were getting as little exposure as possible,” he said. “Also, as a school, we are looking at ways to reduce our carbon footprint at every opportunity. Therefore, we felt the time had come to purchase electric mowers and we looked at two different brands.
“I wanted the rest of the team involved in the decision because they are the ones using the mowers. I took on-board their feedback and every one of them said they wanted the Dennis – I’ve never seen them smile so much. The battery-life on the Dennis E-Series was the big game-changer.”
For many years, turf professionals have been choosing Dennis for their superb cut quality and reliability, and recently the company introduced the next generation of its mowers. The new and exciting E-Series is a range of battery powered mowers that are no compromise alternatives to the range of petrol machines which meet sustainability and environmental initiatives, reduce carbon footprint, emissions, running costs and noise without any range anxiety.
Richard and his team decided on two mowers from the E-Series range – the Dennis ES-860 and the Dennis ES-510.
Users of the Dennis G860 cylinder mower will no doubt see familiarities in the new ES-860. This 34” battery powered turf management system delivers maximum versatility and the range of 13 interchangeable cassette options provide a solution to many day-to-day maintenance tasks.
This ES-510 is based on the Dennis FT510. With a choice of 12 interchangeable cassettes, the ES-510 is capable of scarifying down to -10mm. Ideal for fine turf it has the power to cut 10km on a single charge.
Both mowers feature a robust LCD keypad screen on the handlebar console providing the operator with a multitude of information options including speed, clip rate, service checks, lifetime running reports and battery information. Furthermore, traditional G860 and FT510 cassettes will also fit their battery-powered alternatives, meaning that customers will not have to purchase additional cassettes.
Richard and the Oakham team use the ES-860 on the cricket squares and the ES-510 on the wickets, and he revealed that they give him a certain peace of mind.
“The squares are about a hectare in size and normally that uses about 35% battery, and most times we cut them twice with the ES-860 before charging. It is peace of mind because you don’t want to get caught short while mowing – it is a long walk to our charging station!
“Depending on the weather we will use the ES-860 to cut the squares from 18mm down to 13mm and it gives us a perfect finish. We’ll also use the verticutter cassette every ten days on the squares but with the ES-510 we’ll give the wickets a verticut every time we prepare them. I also like the easy height of cut adjustment which is achieved in just a couple of clicks.
“It is a really nice experience using these mowers,” continued Richard. “They are both enjoyable to use, and that quietness is amazing. If children are in classes, we don’t have to worry about noisy engines disturbing them.
“Battery equipment has come a long way in the last few years, but I believe Dennis has gone a step further and made it even better. We no longer have to wear ear defenders, have no nasty vibrations or noise. Electric is no longer the future, it’s the now.”