Achieving an ambition is, as we all know, something you don’t forget and something to be proud of.

That ambition doesn’t have to be to climb the highest mountain, run a marathon or be the boss in big business. No, ambition is about a strong desire to achieve something, that is important to you as an individual. Ambition drives people to accomplish goals, they shape who we are and who we become, they allow us to dream.

This story is not just about ambition it’s about ambition in the face of adversity… within our industry.

In 2013 Dave Vickers, who many of you will know, beyond the fact that he is the reigning Plant Operator of the Year, was operating a Takeuchi TB016 mini excavator and a Thwaites 1-tonne Hi-tip dumper, on a small holding belonging to the Marshall family in Staffordshire.

Reece Marshall would have been 11 years old at the time and he loved to watch Dave operating his excavator and dumper across his father’s land…what lad wouldn’t.

Dave, recognising the enthusiast, was keen to engage with the young man that watched him for many hours trenching, back filling and loading. So, Dave would tell Reece about his first job in the industry, working for rail specialist hirers A.P.Webb Plant Hire in the town. How he became the youngest rail plant operator at just 18 years old, indeed how his apprenticeship scheme was everything he had hoped for, teaching him so much and standing him is such good stead.

Dave kept in touch with his client and was sad to learn that on the 5th of January 2015, Reece was diagnosed with bone cancer, he was just 13 years old.
The family, clearly devasted, united to fight the disease. Along the way they felt they wanted to thank the hospital and staff for all they were doing so the planning began to hold a fund raiser, in the shape of a ‘village fete’ to raise funds for Teenage Cancer Trust.

In early 2015 the Marshall family organised their event. Dave was asked if he would take a stand at the event and think of a way he could raise funds. So, the ‘beat the plant operator’ competition was born. The good town’s folk were encouraged to donate and challenged to see if they could stack more tyres, than the would-be UK Plant Operator of the Year. Dave insists, he remained undefeated.

Along with a range of ‘fete esq’ activities that the British do so well, cakes were sold, faces were painted, and wellies were wanged…there was even a surprise appearance from ‘Del Boys’ three-wheeler. This was no ‘scout jamboree’, the Marshall family were driven and organised, the community responded and boy how they responded, as a massive £35,000 was raised.

Reece underwent a punishing regime of treatment; in May 2016 he and his family heard the words they yearned to hear; Reece was cancer free.

Hospital and treatment time meant over a year of schooling was lost, this was seen as the next battle and Reece knuckled down, he agreed to delay his education by dropping down an academic year and worked tirelessly to complete his education.

This is not the end of this remarkable young man’s story; the next chapter has a twist.

In August 2019 Reece secured an apprenticeship, to achieve his ambition and become a fully qualified plant operator. The company that gave him the chance, which he has grasped with both hands and now has his NPORS dozer, dump truck and telehandler tickets was…A.P.Webb Plant Hire the very company that had given Dave his start, all those years ago.

Reece has also gained his rail dozer tickets and is currently working operating a Cat D4 Dozer, on various Network Rail sites and has become super-efficient with the latest in cab 3D and GPS Trimble technology.

The ambition is to continue learning and growing in a role that Reece loves so much. Professionally he is grateful to all that have helped, those like Dave Vickers who lit a light in that boy’s heart, those that came out and raised money for a worthy cause and those at AP Webb who recognised the ability and gave the opportunity.

Reece has achieved so much of which he can be proud, the desire to overcome and ultimately work doing the job you coveted as a child is incredibly admirable.

We wish Reece well as he continues his journey. The next steps are to qualify as Road Rail Excavator driver, then we will see, one thing is for sure you may very well see at a future time, the name Reece Marshall on the side of construction and road rail machines…we sincerely hope so.