HELICOPTER makers Leonardo held a lunch for local charities, schools and care homes on Tuesday to celebrate its first company community day of volunteering.

Despite employees working at the Leonardo site having volunteered for many decades, this was the first time that an official day of volunteering was recognised by the company.

Leonardo graduate and Project Manager for the ‘Be A Saint Day’ committee, Jacob Potts, said: “I am so proud of the Be A Saint Day Committee.

“It is amazing how far this initiative has come in such a short space of time.

“The project would not have been so successful +without the support from the senior management and the proactive attitude of the Leonardo employees.

“I am excited to see the progression of this concept in the years to come and truly believe that this has the potential to have a major impact on the community in Yeovil.”

A group of graduates came up with the idea, seeing the potential to focus efforts according to specific local needs.

Senior management at the company were so impressed by the concept of ‘Be A Saint Day’ by the graduates that they are working to make this a regular event in the annual calendar.

Altogether, 55 volunteers got to work on March 18, after spending weeks talking with local organisations to understand their specific requirements.

Beneficiaries included The Hub, a charity offering day services for adults with learning disabilities and autism, where the team carried out extensive gardening work and smoothed their fire escape.

CEO of The Hub, Ken Comber, said: “The Leonardo Be A Saint Day was a fabulous success. The Leonardo team re-laid an unsafe pathway to a fire exit and improved our flower and shrub borders and raised beds.

“They all worked extremely hard, but the best bit was the interaction and engagement with our trainees who have learning disabilities and/or autism.

“Leonardo staff working alongside our trainees will help our trainees with their social engagement, confidence and self-esteem and the feeling of being included and valued cannot be underestimated.

“It is a brilliant initiative! Huge thanks to Leonardo and all Involved!"

They carried out work at Prodigal Bikes, a charity that refurbishes donated bikes and sends them to Africa, where they installed new storage and carried out a general clean and tidy up of the workspace.

The team also attended Yeovil Cricket Club, where they painted fences, benches and a large container, as well as completing a clear up and installed a new scoreboard.

Maiden Beech Primary School received a visit from Leonardo, where they spent the day painting the school hall which is used for assemblies and events.

Head of School at Maiden Beech Primary School, Ross Boyce, said: “We were incredibly fortunate to be part of the Leonardo’s Be a Saint Day. Our school has undergone a huge change and we are repurposing our entire site to meet the needs of younger learners phase by phase.

“As the last paint strokes were made, we all were amazed at what a transformation had occurred. Next week, we will invite our whole school community into our school hall for our termly celebration assembly.

“We can now be proud of the space we have to come together, learn and celebrate. Thank you to all who were involved and gave their incredible support to the project.”

Leonardo volunteer, Paul Coombs, said: “It was a herculean effort by the team to transform the hall in just one day, all made possible by the fantastic collaboration between our team and Maiden Beech Primary School. It was great to get the children involved, who were all very enthusiastic.

“We created a tree collage on the wall and each leaf is signed by a pupil. As new children join the school, the tree will flourish.”