Well there aren’t many photos from this day – yet! As half of it was taken in a top secret location it would seem, at least they were very security conscious and cameras were not allowed and phones needed to be switched off!
We started the day at Yeovil Council offices which they refer to as the Town House – because it IS a beautiful town house. After tea and coffees, we got on a coach and headed for Leonardo Helicopters (previously lots of other names as we learned but the one most familiar to me was Westlands).
They gave us an introductory talk about the business, who they sell to, the (eye watering) cost of the machines, how they test, service, refurb etc. But what was also interesting was that their workforce is currently aging and they’re doing a huge recruitment drive to get younger apprentices (5 year apprenticeship no less). They don’t give preference to Uni graduates either. Although there can be support get employees to achieve degrees.
Some of the people that showed us around had worked there 20 or 40 years, so I’m guessing it’s a good employer, certainly a major employer in the area – several thousand work on site with many more all around the world. The site is massive, the size of a small town with it’s own road network – well it needs room for helicopters to move about and be tested! Unfortunately we didn’t get a ride on one!
After a talk we were given a guided tour of some hangars where brand new helicopters alongside 20 year old ones, were being worked on. I was surprised that whilst it was a factory, it was clinical like a laboratory and very quiet and warm. All very civilised!
We had an official ‘group shot’ of the Chain gang in front of one of the large helicopters – I only got the one above on the way in!
So afterwards we got back on the coach to head back into town for a superb lunch at a local Italian restaurant Tamburino. The food was really lovely and the staff looked after us very well.
After lunch, back on the coach out to the Innovation Centre. This is a large building that the Council owns, dedicated to office space for smaller businesses and start ups. They can rent a small or large office space or just a hot desk! Great idea.
So thank you to the Town Mayor Cllr David Recardo, who was very attentive and made sure we had a super day. Another one to remember!