When International Greenkeepers For Hire was still only a seed of an idea, one of our biggest aims was to facilitate partnerships between working professionals and global workplaces in the greenkeeping and grounds industries. And now, having achieved this for so many people, we continue to be inspired and excited by the opportunities we’ve helped provide to our members. Here, we chatted to Lewis Wells, a greenkeeper from the UK, who travelled to Sydney, Australia, to experience the industry down under.
What inspired you to pursue a career as a greenkeeper in the first place?
I’ve always loved being outside as I’m very passionate about my sports, especially cricket, and being indoors has never been something I’ve enjoyed. So working in a job that’s practical and outside was a big part of why I wanted to do greenkeeping as a job.
Could you describe your journey and experiences as a greenkeeper in the UK before making the move to Sydney?
I began my apprenticeship at an English private school, starting with estate maintenance—hedges, lawns, and planting—before shifting to my true passion: sports ground care. After 6 months on the estate side, I spent 1.5 years on the sports side to finish my apprenticeship. The experiences were invaluable, aiding not only my professional development in greenkeeping but also my personal growth. The support within the greenkeeping community was remarkable. A standout moment was being invited to Lords Cricket Ground in May to meet Karl McDermott, the head groundsman. He took time out of his busy schedule to show me around the grounds, which was an opportunity I’ll always treasure.
How did you first hear about International Greenkeepers For Hire, and what motivated you to explore job opportunities overseas?
I first heard of International Greenkeepers through a mate who I had worked with at my job in England. He told me to join the Facebook groups as a lot of beneficial posts get published which may help me find another job in the industry one day. Working abroad never crossed my mind until the last 6 months of me actually finishing my apprenticeship. When the idea came to me that working abroad sounded like something I’d like to do, Australia was always my first choice. Working in another country was going to help me grow as a greenkeeper and develop more skills and see how jobs in the UK are done differently.
What were some of the challenges you faced when considering a job abroad, and how did International Greenkeepers For Hire assist you in overcoming these challenges?
Only being 19, leaving home was the first challenge. It took a while for me to really decide whether I wanted to make the jump and come to Australia to work, but now I’m here I’m so grateful that I did make the move to come and work here. Daryl Davidson and Bradly Tennant from the start have been so helpful in making sure the transition from the UK to Australia was smooth and answering any questions I had.
Can you share your initial thoughts and feelings when you discovered the job opportunity at Sydney University? What made it stand out to you?
The initial feelings were very exciting as working in a team was something I was looking forward to. I was hoping to develop my skills by learning from others. Also seeing the grounds that get maintained by the Sydney uni grounds team really appealed to me. Working on the cricket side of the job was something I was really looking forward to being a part of.
What was the application process like, and how did International Greenkeepers For Hire support you in the transition?
The application process was very smooth, which helped a lot with nerves, especially making the jump from England to Australia! I appreciated knowing that things were sorted before I got here, which again is thanks to Daryl and Bradley.
At any point if I had questions about anything, I could confidently know I could give Daryl or Bradley an email.
What do you enjoy most about your role at Sydney University as a greenkeeper, and how does it compare to your previous experiences?
I’m really enjoying helping make the cricket pitches and seeing how the process is different compared to the UK. I also love working with a team that’s very experienced and always happy to help me when needed.
Were there any cultural or environmental adjustments you had to make when moving to Australia, and how did you adapt to your new surroundings?
I quickly adapted to the hot environment working here in Australia and how quickly the weather can change, which is important to keep an eye on when working on cricket squares the squares should be covered if any rain is expected. I really like the work ethic out here at Sydney Uni with regards to work always being done to the best it can be.