17 Mar St Patrick’s Day Special Feature: A toast to Noel Lyons, our Head of Grounds!
There are plenty of familiar sights at Coram’s Fields, ranging from our pavilion to our goats, but perhaps none is more iconic than our very own Head of Grounds, Noel Lyons. On St Patrick’s Day, when we consider the best of all things Irish, it would be remiss not to have a few words with the man himself.
CF: Hi Noel, thanks for speaking with us. You were born and raised in County Mayo, Ireland. How did you end up at Coram’s Fields?
NL: I came over from Ireland back in 1987 and launched myself straight into the construction industry. After many years in that line of work, I was eager for a change and saw an opportunity advertised for a groundsman at Coram’s Fields. I interviewed and was appointed. Less than two years later I applied for the vacant role of Head of Grounds and I’ve been in post ever since. I have been at Coram’s Fields 20 years now.
CF: That was very lucky for us! Looking after Coram’s Fields which draws thousands of visitors annually must be quite a varied job. You run a team of 5 groundsmen, could you tell us what an average day in the role looks like?
NL: It varies considerably. While we are open 363 days a year and open at 8am each day, there is a seasonal element, so we finish at 5pm in Winter and 8pm in Summer. As to a typical day, it can involve dealing with animal issues, doing routine maintenance and repairs to our buildings and play equipment, health and safety issues, gardening, plumbing and overseeing volunteering days.
CF: Never a dull moment! Obviously, given the amount of time you have been here, you have seen Coram’s Fields evolve. What have been the main changes you have noticed?
NL: As you might expect there have been ups and downs. There have been some brilliant transformations to our site, including extensive refurbishment of our Youth Centre and Nursery buildings. The installation of new 3G pitches a few years ago was fantastic for children and young people and seeing the wildlife garden reopen last year was great too, it was a shame that it was out of action for so long.
CF: What do you perceive as the key challenges facing Coram’s Fields in its ambition to continue to be a safe haven for children, young people and their families?
NL: It all comes down to the lack of funding, which has a knock on effect. Our site costs a great deal to maintain, and there is still a lot more work to be done. Ultimately the future of this space will rely on significant investment.
CF: Beyond the challenges, it must also be quite a rewarding job. Could you share with us a couple of your favourite memories from your time here?
NL: There have been a lot of familiar faces over the years, and I have seen a lot of young people grow up during my time here. I have many stories, but unfortunately very few that could go to print. There was one time, actually several, where the peacocks (yes we had peacocks!) escaped from the park and it took about two or three of us to bring them back, once we had to chase them down the alleyway behind where the sport pitches are now.
CF: Amazing, assuming that you always managed to get the peacocks back in the end… so Noel, one last question- how will you be spending St Patricks Day?
NL: I pulled the short straw so I’ll be working, but will be sure to celebrate afterwards!