‘Blood drains from lads’ faces when shown £3million booze machines they must use

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    First days are rarely easy for anyone but arguably few new jobs are quite as daunting as manning multi-million pound machinery at the world's biggest cider factory.

    Heineken invited the Daily Star inside the home of its giant cider pressing operation in Ledbury, Herefordshire, where it soon became apparent just how much gear is required to supply the world with gallons on gallons of Strongbow and more. We watched the intensive and thunderously loud journey apples go on from being shaken off trees at a nearby orchard to floating down a canal to be well and truly mashed.

    READ MORE: World's biggest cider factory of huge towers and apple rivers left me dying for a pint

    We talk an awful lot about booze and pub news at the Daily Star, all can be found here

    Fortunately yours truly was only there to admire the process and not be thrust into running the entire operation like shift manager Simon Stone who trains new recruits to do just that. "It’s come a long way from what it was," Simon told us. "These guys we bring in, they’re young, only 23/22 all of a sudden they get to play around with a £3million machine.

    "When you first show them around and you say that’s what you’re running, you see the blood drain from their face. After a couple of weeks you see them grow and you’re training them they get more confident and then when they leave in November they’re like this when they walk out, ‘oh I can run…’ It’s good and it’s satisfying seeing the guys, train them."

    Thanks to the advances in technology, the cider mill has come a long way from it's early days and can churn out the sweet fruity nectar of tins, bottles and pub taps, on far fewer staff than ever before. Simon explained how he and his team have proved doubters wrong and suffered fewer staffing woes as a result.

    "A lot of people said it wouldn’t work. But when you have those phone calls because they’re only agency guys, when they phone up and say ‘I’m not coming in today’, now the mill doesn’t have to stop. We can’t afford for the mill to stop because we can’t put the apples back on the trees. They’re either going to rot or we process them.

    We’ve been making it run with less people, not just to save money but it’s protection because you can't always get the staff. You need to be able to run it. "If we struggle getting the staff we can do it with less people so it’s almost protecting the business as well."

    Rather than the factory floors be flooded with staff, we found most of them huddled around big screens inside what seemed like a crossover between Bruce Wayne's Bat Cave and Stockley Park's VAR room.

    Showing us around said space, Simon added: "It can all be done in one room. Christian here he following the flow of fruit into the mill and he’s also running 11 pressers at the same time. Then you’ve got David here running both the evaporators so the whole process is being run in here.

    "Very slick," Simon quipped.

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