A Harden company is to play a central role in maintaining war cemeteries across the world.

STRI – formerly the Sports Turf Research Institute – has been appointed to help ensure sites look their best during the anniversary years of the First World War.

The firm, a renowned international expert on managing grass surfaces, said it was proud and delighted to have signed the deal with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).

STRI chief executive officer, Gordon McKillop, said: “In this centenary year of the First World War, it is an honour for us to have been appointed to work with the commission during such an important period in its history.

“This is a very exciting and high-profile partnership with international interest, and we are delighted to be working so closely with the CWGC.

“With cemeteries located in more than 150 countries, we have already developed a comprehensive work programme for the coming year and beyond.”

The commission, which honours the 1.7 million men and women from Common-wealth forces who died in both world wars, cares for cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations.

A team of agronomy experts from STRI will help identify and implement the most effective ways of providing consistently good quality turf at the sites.

Agronomist, Steve Gingell, said: “STRI is widely recognised as the world’s leading authority for research and advice on sports turf design and management at a wide range of sporting venues. Our work with the CWGC represents an exciting new direction for us, and one that is extremely important.

“This is an extensive programme covering a large number of sites, with visits to a variety of cemeteries located in both warm and cool season climates.

“As part of the project, we will also be reviewing the CWGC turf manual to support staff knowledge and training. This is a significant area of work for STRI, with the potential to lead to further diversification within the turf industry.”

STRI, established in the UK in 1929, has grown rapidly during the past two decades. It now has 75 staff working across the globe.

The company has opened new research and consultancy offices in Australia, and provides a range of services to an international client base of about 2,100 sports clubs and facilities each year.

High-profile customers include FIFA, and it is involved in the maintenance of sports surfaces ranging from Twickenham and Lords to Wimbledon and all nine open golf championship courses.