The Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA) has announced the construction plant sector’s future stars at one of the industry’s first live events following the COVID pandemic.

Over 220 people attended the CPA Stars of the Future Awards 2021 hosted at the Heart of England Conference and Events Centre in Fillongley near Coventry. Despite the many challenges that employers, training providers and apprentices have faced over recent months due to the pandemic, the CPA received almost 70 nominations for Stars of the Future this year. This represents one of the highest ever entry figures in the awards programme’s nine year history.

On the day, the top accolades were won by:

  • National Plant Mechanic of the Year (Level 2) - Dean Johnston of Liebherr and NSCG Stafford College
  • National Plant Technician of the Year (Level 3) - Luke Thornton of GGR Group and Activate Apprenticeships
  • Plant Operative of the Year - Jim Baraclough of L Lynch Plant Hire
  • Plant Installer of the Year - Liam Basson of Falcon Tower Crane Services
  • Hire Controller of the Year - Amy Wicks of L Lynch Plant Hire
  • Best Personal Statement - Beth Doel of HSS and Reaseheath College
  • Judges’ Special Award - Lucy O’Rourke of Sunbelt Rentals and Reaseheath College

Kevin Minton, Chief Executive of the CPA said: “The standard of entries for Stars of the Future this year was exceptional and we were delighted to welcome the nominees and winners to the awards ceremony and congratulate them in person. The judges really had a difficult task choosing the winners, and it was reassuring to see that the future of the construction plant sector really is in safe hands.”

Stars of the Future is a national awards scheme for apprentices and trainees in the construction plant-hire industry, organised by the CPA, the leading trade association for the plant-hire sector in the UK. The CPA has over 1,700 members who supply 85% of hired plant to the construction industry.

The CPA Stars of the Future awards are intended to recognise and reward outstanding apprentices and trainees who not only bring ability and commitment to their learning and their work, but also possess those extra capabilities which mark them out as being not only the foundations of the future of the industry, but also potentially its leaders - the Stars of the Future.

Stars of the Future has expanded significantly from its origins of rewarding and recognising Plant Mechanics. Several national titles are now awarded and nominations have been made by training providers, plant-hire companies, manufacturers, contractors and others operating in the construction plant sector with apprentices and trainees in their workforce.

The awards categories reflect the key occupations in the plant industry, and correspond with apprenticeships that are available, including new ‘Trailblazer’ apprenticeships in England. A new category for 2021 was Plant Installer of the Year.

The headline sponsor for CPA Stars of the Future 2021 was Sunbelt Rentals and the award sponsors included L Lynch Plant Hire, NOCN Job Cards, Snap-on Industrial, ACOP Group, Liebherr, Flannery Plant Hire and Wolffkran. This year, Stars of the Future had a two-tier judging process - the CPA selection panel and a panel of external judges who decided the eventual winners of each category.

The external judging panel included Martyn Price MBE of O’Halloran & O’Brien, Kirsty Archbold-Laming of Southern Hoist Services, Graham Black of Earthmovers Magazine, Siôn Morgan Jones of ACOP Group, Katie Kelleher of Select Plant Hire, Gary Barnes of Costain, Leigh Sparrow of Vertikal Press and Arran Willis of Liebherr.

As well as receiving national recognition, Stars of the Future winners won a number of prizes on the day, including Snap-on tool kits, training courses, iPads, vouchers and an all-expenses paid trip to Germany to visit a Liebherr crane manufacturing plant.

The complete list of Stars of the Future 2021 winners is as follows:

Plant Mechanic of the Year - North
Ben Thomas, Brandon Hire Station, Myerscough College - Winner
George Johnson, Bachy Soletanche, Reaseheath College - Highly Commended
Jake Dyer, Warwick Ward Machinery, Askham Bryan College - Highly Commended

Plant Mechanic of the Year - Midlands
Jason Pritchard, Focus Environmental/Edg-Tec, NSCG Stafford College - Winner
Kyle Pollard, UK Tool Hire, NCC East - Highly Commended

Plant Mechanic of the Year - South
Dean Johnston, Liebherr, NSCG Stafford College - Winner
Billy Mitchell, AmeyBriggs, Wiltshire College - Highly Commended
Michael Coulson, Sunbelt Rentals, Reaseheath College - Highly Commended

Plant Mechanic of the Year - Wales
Lochlan Lewis, Fitzgerald Plant Services, Bridgend College - Winner

Plant Mechanic of the Year - Scotland
Calum MacKenzie, A & L Stronach, NCC Scotland - Winner
Jay Whitefield, GAP Group, NCC Scotland - Highly Commended

Plant Technician of the Year - North
Thomas Sealeaf, Brandon Hire Station, Myerscough College - Winner
Jack Martin, Asphalt Grid Systems, Reaseheath College - Highly Commended
Steven Behn, SMT GB, Reaseheath College - Highly Commended

Plant Technician of the Year - Midlands
Tom Willgoose, Traction Equipment (Stafford), NSCG Stafford College - Winner
Jack Coupland, Babcock International, NCC East - Highly Commended
Tyler Pearson, Wirtgen, NCC East - Highly Commended

Plant Technician of the Year - South
Luke Thornton, GGR Group, Activate Apprenticeships - Winner
Beth Doel, HSS, Reaseheath College - Highly Commended
Oliver Vickery, GAP Group, Bridgend College - Highly Commended

Plant Technician of the Year - Scotland
Angus MacDonald, Briggs Equipment, NSCG Stafford College - Winner
Regan Dunn, Brandon Hire Station, Myerscough College - Highly Commended

National Plant Mechanic of the Year (Level 2)
Dean Johnston, Liebherr, NSCG Stafford College - Winner
Jason Pritchard, Focus Environmental/Edg-Tec, NSCG Stafford College - Highly Commended
Lochlan Lewis, Fitzgerald Plant Services, Bridgend College - Highly Commended

National Plant Technician of the Year (Level 3)
Luke Thornton, GGR Group, Activate Apprenticeships - Winner
Tom Willgoose, Traction Equipment (Stafford), NSCG Stafford College - Highly Commended

Plant Operative of the Year 
Jim Baraclough, L Lynch Plant Hire - Winner
Sid Verrill, L Lynch Plant Hire - Highly Commended

Plant Installer of the Year
Liam Basson, Falcon Tower Crane Services - Winner
Danny Walden, L Lynch Plant Hire - Highly Commended

Hire Controller of the Year 
Amy Wicks, L Lynch Plant Hire - Winner
Lucy Adams, GAP Group - Highly Commended

College of the Year
Askham Bryan College - Winner
Reaseheath College - Highly Commended

Best Personal Statement Award
Beth Doel, HSS, Reaseheath College - Winner

Young Business of the Year Award
Grasmere Plant Hire - Winner, Owner: Joseph Rollitt

Judges’ Special Award
Lucy O'Rourke, Sunbelt Rentals, Reaseheath College - Winner