KEN DAWSON, founder and chairman of Elvington turf growers Rolawn, has received a top international award.

Mr Dawson has been honoured by the US-based Turf Producers International (TPI) in recognition of his contribution to the turf grass industry.

The award of distinguished honorary member, made at the TPI Midwinter Conference in Cancun, Mexico, is the first time the accolade has been accorded to a British citizen.

Since it was founded 38 years ago TPI has presented the distinguished Honorary Member award on only 23 occasions.

The president of TPI, Art Campbell, speaking on behalf of the board of trustees, said: "This award is presented to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the turf grass industry over many years. It is the most prestigious award we can bestow on anyone."

TPI is dedicated to the advancement of the turf grass industry. It is best known in the US, where the industry has a multi-million dollar turnover. Mr Dawson founded Rolawn 30 years ago in Aberdeenshire, then switched the business to Elvington on the outskirts of York shortly afterwards.

Today, his son Paul, as managing director, presides over 3,400 acres in production in the vale of York and is acknowledged as the largest producer of quality cultivated turf in Europe.

Mr Dawson said: "I am grateful to the TPI members who nominated me and to the board of trustees for honouring me with this distinguished award.

"I am particularly pleased to receive it during Rolawn's 30th anniversary year."

Updated: 09:50 Thursday, March 24, 2005