Yeovil’s eight-decade record of exporting helicopters from the UK has seen aircraft made in Britain flying with customers in Asia-Pacific, Europe, North Africa, and North America.
Yeovil, home to Britain’s only onshore helicopter manufacturer, is celebrating its official recognition by the town and local councils as the “Home of British Helicopters”. The status reflects Yeovil’s storied history of aviation firsts and the huge value helicopter design and manufacture contributes to the local, regional, and national economies. To mark the new status, official signage identifying Yeovil as the Home of British Helicopters now greets people arriving in town via road and rail.
To celebrate the occasion, we joined client, Leonard Helicopters as they held a commemorative event at their helicopter production line, joined also by local politicians, community partners, and representatives from the Ministry of Defence.
Emma Rawlings, Chief Executive of Somerset Chamber of Commerce, who spoke at the event, said:
“Leonardo’s presence in the region has far-reaching benefits, from the direct employment opportunities it provides to the indirect economic stimulus created through its supply chain. The local community has the enviable status of having such a unique business here in Yeovil. I think that we are all very proud when we watch a film and see a helicopter designed and manufactured from Yeovil featuring within it, like the recent Jurassic World movie.
“However, for me, it was at the 2012 Olympics when the late HM Queen Elizabeth II, parachuted into the stadium with James Bond from a Leonardo helicopter, it was one of those moments, when you are so incredibly proud to be British and more importantly from Somerset.”
Other guest speakers included Mark Bolton, CEO & Principal of Yeovil College, who reflected on how helicopter manufacturing is central to the fabric of the town, and how Leonardo is investing to ensure a bright future for the site’s 3,000 employees and local young people looking to embark on an exciting career in aerospace.
Clive Higgins, Chair and CEO at Leonardo UK, added:
“As a former apprentice at Leonardo and Yeovil College, I recognise the significance the company currently plays and will continue to do so in our local Somerset community. We hope that Yeovil’s official recognition as the Home of British Helicopters will help to attract even more young people from across the UK to work in an interesting, varied, and exciting workplace here in the heart of the South West.”
For 108 years, Yeovil has played a fundamental role in the defence of the nation. The site has 34 customers across 26 countries and supports over 500 aircraft around the globe. This would not be possible without continuous investment in specialist skills and facilities on-site as well as the company’s extensive cross-UK supply chain, which Morson Projects are extremely proud to be part of.
Underpinning all of this success are the highly-skilled people that work at Leonardo. With more than 3,000 employees on-site, Leonardo is engaging in various outreach and up-skilling programmes across the region to inspire and attract the next generation of British helicopter apprentices, engineers, and businesspeople into the domain.
Adam Clarke, Managing Director at Leonardo Helicopters UK, said:
“Yeovil means a lot to Leonardo, and Leonardo means a lot to Yeovil. I know this shared pride has deep roots throughout our site and the town. As we look to attract the talent of the future to embark on our latest- and future-generation projects to shape the future of UK Aerospace, we at Leonardo recognise that our success is symbiotic with that of our community. We are committed to continuously building on the foundations laid by our heritage to sustain a successful business for decades to come.”
Becky Veal, Associate Director at Morson Projects, commented:
“Over the years we have established a long-term relationship with Leonardo, which we are now taking to the next phase as their Strategic Partner. As a local company, with a locally grown team, to be able to join them at their facility in Yeovil and celebrate such a significant moment in Yeovil history was a real privilege.”
Matthew Thompson, Morson Projects’ Head of Engineering Delivery for Leonardo, continued:
“Leonardo has been a big part of both my personal and professional life, I grew up in Yeovil and Leonardo has helped shape and inspire the local community. My grandparents, father and extended family have all worked at Leonardo (Westlands as it once was) at some point during their careers, there has always been a personnel connection for me.
“Being named as the Home of British Helicopters is well deserved accolade for Yeovil and the multiple generations of people that have all contributed to the world leading products we know today.”