National Apprenticeship Week marked the perfect opportunity to reward some of the Construction Plant-hire Association’s (CPA) Stars of the Future award winners.

Stars of the Future is the CPA’s awards programme for apprentices and trainees in the construction plant sector and since it was established 11 years ago, it has become firmly rooted as the sector’s premier event for recognising and rewarding apprentices who are earmarked as future leaders of the industry.

Two of the winners from the CPA Stars of the Future Awards 2023 were Roksana Przybylska of L Lynch Plant Hire & Haulage who won Plant Operative of the Year and Chloe Jones of Flannery Plant Hire who was awarded the Young Plant Operative of the Year accolade.

As part of their prize, Roksana and Chloe were welcomed to JCB’s World Headquarters in Staffordshire to enjoy a VIP JCB Experience comprising a tour of the Story of JCB and a visit to the Backhoe Loader production line, before transferring over to JCB’s test and demonstration quarry to try out the JCB 3CX Pro and 4CX Pro as part of a Backhoe Loader Dig Experience. The visit also included an overnight stay at the JCB Golf and Country Club. 

Prior to the visit, Chloe had already completed a week-long training course at ACOP Group’s training facility - another part of her Star of the Future prize - enabling her to gain her 180° Excavator ticket. Chloe completed the training course alongside joint Young Plant Operative of the Year winner Harnoorpreet Singh Gill of L Lynch Plant Hire & Haulage, and Roksana is due to complete the course at ACOP Group in the near future.

The VIP JCB Experience was organised by Georgina Williams, JCB Application and Training Manager - Backhoe Loader who said: “It really has been inspiring to spend time with some of the CPA Stars of the Future winners. This visit has allowed Roksana and Chloe to try out our Backhoe Loader - our flagship product that JCB began with some 70 years ago. 

“It’s important for us to engage with the next generation of Plant Operators and keep the product moving forward with new technologies. Over the last 12 months, there has been a 20% increase in Backhoe Loader Operators which is very encouraging. Stars of the Future is a great awards scheme which recognises tomorrow’s leaders of the industry and anyone nominated for an award gives us great hope about the future.”

Roksana has been operating plant for almost four years now and came into the industry by chance, having previously been a florist. Her fiancé’s brother knew how much Roksana enjoyed driving and suggested that plant operating might be a good career choice moving forward. Such was her passion for getting into the sector that Roksana self-funded her 360° Excavator course and considered it a Christmas present to herself!

The Lynch team recognised Roksana’s passion and determination to succeed and she was offered a place on the company’s ‘Careers in Plant’ training programme. She jumped at the chance and hasn’t looked back since, having worked on prestigious projects such as HS2. She has now got several different tickets including 360 Excavator, Lift Option, 56B-ADT, A09A-Tipping Dumper, A57D-Dump Truck/Tracked and A31-Roller and is looking forward to completing her training at ACOP Group to gain her Backhoe Loader ticket.

Roksana said: “I have been so impressed during the visit to JCB. The tour was like going to a mini museum and it was so interesting learning about the Bamford family setting up JCB and the evolution of the plant machinery. I think Lord Bamford is like the Einstein of Construction! 

“I was so excited to try out the Backhoe Loader for the first time. It’s very comfortable and it’s so versatile because it does the job of a Dumper, Excavator and Telehandler all in one. You can use the digger and the shovel on just the one machine. I can’t wait to carry out the training course.

“When I was at the Stars of the Future awards last year, my blood pressure went sky high when they were announcing the winners. It was brilliant to win the award and all my friends and colleagues were so happy for me. This has been a fantastic prize and I absolutely love working in this industry. I love going to new sites and meeting new people and I’d like to progress my career further, maybe becoming a Site Assessor in the future.

“Seeing how far I have come and the skills I have learnt has driven me to see how far I can go. I am at an exciting point where I feel I understand the value I can add. Having the right attitude is what has got me here so far, and ambition and determination are what will take me further than I thought possible. I have had the opportunity to work on some fantastic projects and continue to grow daily both personally and professionally. I hope one day to be the reason someone else finds this amazing career path,” she added.

Chloe has also been plant operating for almost four years and when she first finished school, she originally set her sights on becoming a Veterinary Nurse, but this didn’t go to plan and she was in and out of various jobs until COVID hit. 

Chloe’s Dad has worked at Flannery Plant Hire for over 10 years as a Plant Operator, and it was he who encouraged Chloe to apply for a Plant Operative Apprenticeship position. It was definitely the right choice, as Chloe has already worked on flagship projects such as Fawley Refinery in Hampshire, participated in several Flannery Women in Construction events to encourage more women to enter the sector and she has received recognition industry-wide in her short time in the sector.

As well as winning the Stars of the Future award, Chloe has secured a 12-month mentoring programme as part of Balfour Beatty’s 5% Club. Chloe was one of just 10 successful apprentices from across Balfour Beatty and its supply chain to be chosen for the coveted Founder’s Pledge Award. Balfour Beatty Group Chief Executive Leo Quinn launched the Founder’s Pledge to commemorate the 10th anniversary of The 5% Club, which he founded in 2013 to tackle the UK’s national skills shortage. For the next year, Chloe will be personally mentored by Flannery Managing Director Patrick Flannery.

Chloe said: “I’m so glad that my Dad encouraged me to enter the construction plant sector. I’ve already had so many amazing opportunities - I’ve worked on lots of different sites in places such as  Southampton, Aylesbury and Norfolk, as well as those closer to home such as Dover and Folkstone. There’s such a variety of work and no two sites are the same.

“There are so many different career choices in the industry and I’d love to work my way up to management level at Flannery. Winning the Young Plant Operative of the Year award has opened up so many new opportunities for me already.

“I was excited to go back on the Backhoe Loader again, as I completed the training course at ACOP Group last year as part of the Stars of the Future prize so it was nice to get back in the seat. My first impressions of the JCB 3CX were how versatile it is, as you can do nearly all jobs with just one machine. The cab is very comfortable, with a lot of storage space and everything is so smooth. On the sites that I work on, Backhoe Loaders always seem to be busy and I can see why. It’s a good ticket to have and overall the visit to JCB has been amazing - it’s an experience that I’ll treasure forever.”

Peter Brown, CPA Technical and Development Manager, who chairs the Stars of the Future judging panel added: “We’re very grateful to JCB  for providing such an impressive prize that’ll create memories that will last a lifetime, and we also pass on our thanks to our award sponsors ACOP Group, L Lynch Plant Hire & Haulage and NOCN Group.

“The Stars of the Future awards programme is all about encouraging new blood into the industry who will become tomorrow’s leaders of the industry, and it’s been heartening to spend time with Roksana and Chloe who have such a passion for the industry. It’s an exciting industry to be in and the trip to JCB has allowed them to have a much greater understanding of how plant is both designed and built and to try out their skills on the Backhoe Loader. It’s certainly advantageous for Plant Operators to have gain extra categories on their cards as they become more adaptable, being able to operate a greater range of machines.”

The Stars of the Future awards programme for 2024 is now open for nominations. The nomination deadline is 22nd March 2024 and more information is available at