I would walk 1,000 miles…

The Champion Plant Operator for 2023 is…Gordon Durno.

In this exclusive first interview with the winner of the UK Plant Operator Magazine, Plant Operator of the Year Gordon Durno, we find out about so much more about this year’s worthy winner.

For the past 37 years Gordon has worked for Aberdeen based Currie Contractors. Competing in this year’s final was no small feat, as it took Gordon and wife Fiona, a total of 20 hours traveling time in their 2-seater van, clocking up over 1,000 miles round trip to do so.

Let’s find out more from this year’s winner:

What reaction have you had to your win?

The reaction has been overwhelming, I’m very humbled by everybody’s congratulations. Everything has been nothing but positive.

What do you (or your wife) think you will spend the £10,000 on?

Well, I’ve been highly surprised because my wife says I’m ‘allowed’ to treat myself to something – therefore I fancy a new motorbike, perhaps a Yamaha XJR!

What project are you currently working on and what are you doing?

I am currently working on a new electrical substation near the town of Keith in Moray, on an offshore wind turbine project.  My particular focus on this job is mainly lifting duties with a 21-ton Doosan rubber duck.

How long have you been operating plant and equipment?

I have been operating plant machinery all my life. As the son of a farmer, I was introduced to the workings of machinery at an early age, I qualified as a Plant Operator in my late teens with Currie Contractors.

How confident were you going into the final?

To be honest, I wasn’t confident going into the final at all!  I had been watching a lot of the other competitors, and the standard of operation was excellent.  I was really pleased with my JCB 3CX Backhoe challenge, it felt like I’d completed the challenge well. I was absolutely delighted to win this category.  Hearing my name called out as the winner of UK Plant Operator of the Year was very unexpected, but fantastic at the same time!  I certainly did not expect to win.

What would you say is the best machine you have operated and why?

My favourite machine to operate has always been the CAT M322D which I had for 6 years and notched up an impressive 17,000 hours!  I liked the power, stability and agility it had for its size.

What’s the best thing about being a Plant Operator?

The variety of work it involves from precision work to muck shifting – every day is different.

What would you say to youngsters or anyone thinking of joining the industry?

I have had one of the best careers I could and I have enjoyed almost every day. I really would encourage anyone, young or old, to get involved, as it can be highly rewarding with a sense of great satisfaction. Learning to master machines takes time, but every day you learn something new, which helps to improve your machine skills and communication skills. 

Congratulations once again to Gordon, thank you to his support group from the Scottish Plant Owners Association (SPOA) and the other competing finalist from Scotland.  Safe operating and safe biking.