A worker from Donaghcloney has been named the first ever Northern Ireland Plant Operator of the Year by leading training provider Industry Training Services (ITS).

The Portadown-based firm launched the search to find the best operators of excavator and telehandlers from across Northern Ireland.

The company is the region’s leading provider of health and safety training solutions to the construction, civil engineering, utilities and manufacturing sectors and beyond.

After negotiating a round of heats, finalists took to ITS’ specially designed course on its 10-acre site to take part in a series of timed challenges.

Alexander Campbell (24), who has been driving plant machinery for six years and works for Colin Campbell Contracts in Dromore, was the overall winner on the day.

ITS Managing Director Brendan Crealey said:

“As Northern Ireland’s leading provider of tuition in the safe usage of plant and machinery, we already knew that the local industry was home to a wealth of talent among both excavator and tele-handler operators.

“It was no surprise therefore that the standard of entrants on what was a highly competitive Finals Day was exceptional and we were delighted to have named Alexander Campbell, the inaugural ITS Northern Ireland Plant Operator of the Year.

“The competition was designed as a fun event, but the precision required to complete the tasks in as fast a time as possible, illustrates the same level of expertise required to operate safely under normal work conditions.”

Alexander Campbell received a £500 cash prize while the runner-up Leo Laverty (30), from Downpatrick, who works for DPH Construction in the town, was awarded a break for two at the Roe Park Resort, Limavady.

Alexander Campbell said: “It is a tremendous honour to have been recognised as Northern Ireland’s best plant operator.

“I was delighted to receive the invite to come to the Finals day after taking part in the heats.

“I’m a bricklayer by trade but on sites, there are so many other skills required, so I came to ITS to receive further training in plant operation and found that it was something I really enjoyed and am good at.”

Since its formation more than 15 years ago, ITS has provided training across a variety of plant and machinery, and delivers a range of industry-recognised schemes including CSR, CPCS and NPORS.

Brendan added:

“Plans are already under way for next year when the ITS Northern Ireland Plant Operator contest will return, larger than before, as we seek once again to showcase the best in the industry.”

For more information about ITS, visit www.industrytrainingservices.com.