• Ayrshire Daily News

Ayrshire dad-to-be is Openreach’s Engineer of the Year

An engineer who worked around the clock to keep people in Ayrshire connected in the wake of Storm Arwen has been named Openreach’s Engineer of the Year 2022.


Luke Picken was nominated by colleagues for his efforts to restore services to local people who lost their broadband due to damage in the devastating storm in November.


Now the Maybole man, who worked flat out to pinpoint and repair dozens of faults across South West Scotland, has picked up his distinctive prize in Ayr – a brand new van with the personalised number plate OR22 ENG.


He scooped an Exceptional Engineer Award before going on to be named overall Engineer of the Year by the national digital network, which has 37,000 employees across the UK.


And Luke, 29, has even more good news to celebrate as wife Emma – also an Openreach network engineer – is expecting the couple’s first baby this winter.


He said: “It was brilliant to be shortlisted but I didn’t think I stood any chance of winning. I was amazed to get an Exceptional Engineer Award. And when the overall winner’s details were being revealed, I was thinking ‘surely this person they’re talking about can’t be me?’.


“I’m very humbled that the company and my colleagues thought I deserved an award of such magnitude. I don’t see what I do as special - I just come to work and do the best I can for our customers and our team.


”With many people still working from home, the internet is essential. It makes life really tough when people can’t connect and I just wanted to get them back online as fast as I could.”


What makes the recognition even more special for Luke is that he has achieved it despite being dyslexic. It’s a subject the specialist fibre engineer has spoken little about in the past.


He said: “I’ve always struggled with reading and writing, especially when I was younger, and I worried it would close doors to me. I hope my story shows other people with dyslexia that it doesn’t have to hold you back - you can get on despite it and achieve great things.”


Luke’s patch manager Alastair Gilroy said: “Luke is an absolute superstar so it’s brilliant to see him singled out from a UK workforce of 37,000 for the ultimate recognition.


“He worked tirelessly to sort out dozens of broadband faults after Storm Arwen battered the west of Scotland. The damage to our fibre network was unprecedented.


“Luke tracked down every fault location then co-ordinated our response to reconnect customers, often working into the night to find and fix an issue lurking somewhere in the network. His hard work and determination inspired his colleagues to pull out all the stops.


“That’s just one of the ways he’s an exceptional engineer.”


Luke was one of 160 UK finalists in the Openreach Shining Stars Awards 2022, shortlisted from 2,600 nominees put forward by their colleagues, which saw 20 recognised in categories for Exceptional Engineers; Safety, Inclusion and Environment Champions; Unsung Heroes; and Best Boss.