Scottish Plant Operator Challenge winner crowned

Scottish Plant Operator Challenge winner crowned

(from left) Callum Mackintosh, Gordon Durno and Morris Leslie (Photo credit: David Wylie - Earthmovers Magazine)

Gordon Durno has been crowned the winner of the Scottish Plant Operator Challenge, following a closely fought competition at Errol Airfield.

The competition, organised by the Scottish Plant Owners Association (SPOA) and sponsored by Morris Leslie Plant Hire, Blackwood Plant Hire, Balgownie, JCB, Tygris Industrial and Kubota, saw plant operators from as far north as Shetland to as far south as the Borders perform a number of challenges to find the best plant operator. 30% of the entrants were self-employed.

Gordon Durno, aged 56, who works for Currie Contractors in Moray, demonstrated his skills honed over a lifetime in the industry. It was perhaps fitting that Jamie Currie, aged 16 and employed at Glenturas Construction, came third in the competition, having been mentored by Gordon from a very young age.

Speaking about his win, Gordon said: “What a great event and I am thrilled to have won and to see Jamie come third is the icing on the cake. We need more young people like Jamie to want to operate plant, enjoy it, and importantly build a career from it.”

The Scottish Plant Operator Challenge was a successful competition for plant operators from the north of Scotland with first and third place going to plant operators from Moray and second place being awarded to Scott Hamilton from Hamilton Plant Hire in Inverness.

The judges came from a broad spectrum of the industry and included Chris Bushell and Chris Blake from the National Construction College, Frank McHugh from Blackwood Training and Tomasz Orkiszewski from Goldcast Academy.

Scottish Plant Operator Challenge winner crowned

(from left) Scott Hamilton, Gordon Durno and Jamie Currie (Photo credit: David Wylie - Earthmovers Magazine)

Commenting on the quality of plant operators, Chris Blake said: “It was an honour for both Chris and I to be invited to judge and support the event. The winners of both the individual categories and the overall competition were worthy of the accolades they received with a high standard of operating on show. We look forward to further supporting the event in the future.”

Chris Bushell added: “It was great to see so many operators turn out for the event and represent the plant sector. These events provide a great opportunity to promote the plant operator profession and recognise the unsung workforce who support the wider Construction Industry and share their vast experience with new entrants coming into the industry.”

The Scottish Plant Operator Challenge is a great example of the Scottish plant industry at its best, as Callum Mackintosh, president of the SPOA, explained: “Once again, I would like to thank all of our sponsors - Morris Leslie Plant Hire, Blackwood Plant Hire, Balgownie, JCB, Tygris Industrial and Kubota - who came forward to ensure that this event went ahead. As for the competition, I think it exceeded everyone’s expectations. To see plant owners and suppliers pulling together to put this event on and plant operators from all over Scotland taking on the challenges, many of them walking in as strangers but leaving as friends was just brilliant to see.

“Coming from the Highlands myself, I was proud to see such an amazing turnout from plant operators in the north of Scotland! Well done to Gordon, Scott and Jamie. I hope that we have laid the groundwork for this competition and hope to see more plant operators enter the Scottish Plant Operator Challenge in 2024.”

Morris Leslie added: “We were delighted to sponsor this event and see it take place at Errol Airfield during the Classic Plant & Tractor Working Weekend. It was a great day for the industry and a real showcase of the talent we have in Scotland. Well done to everyone who took part.”

The winners of the Scottish Plant Operator Challenge shared a prize pot of £3,000 with £1,800 awarded to the winner, £900 to the runner up and £300 to third place.

The organisers also recognised the top performers from each challenge who each received £100.

The complete list of winners from the Scottish Plant Operator Challenge is as follows:


  • 1st overall: Gordon Durno
  • 2nd overall: Scott Hamilton
  • 3rd overall: Jamie Currie

Category winners

Shape it Up: Scott Hamilton

  • Trenching: Gordon Durno
  • JCB 3CX: Stephen McCormick
  • On the Grade: Fiona Wilson
  • 6 Ball Challenge: Gordon Durno
  • Loading the Truck: William Frame

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