A LIFELONG Witney resident has landed his dream job at a famous Oxfordshire brewery after more than 25 years of service.

Jon Tillson has been appointed head brewer at Wychwood Brewery, following the retirement of previous top dog Jeff Drew last month.

Mr Tillson first set foot inside the Witney brewery during a work experience placement in 1992 and has worked full-time for the company since 2001.

Since then, the 41-year-old has risen through the ranks and the top job is now a perfect fit.

Mr Tillson cycles to work from Cogges, where he lives with his wife and two daughters, and still chooses Wychwood Brewery’s flagship beer Hobgoblin as his favourite.

He said: “Who would have thought that a school work experience placement would have led to me being in charge of brewing my favourite beer – I couldn’t be happier.”

Mr Tillson’s first taste of Wychwood Brewery was two weeks of work experience while he was a pupil at Wood Green School.

Then aged 15, he began by washing barrels, delivering and brewing and – despite being below the legal drinking age – was hooked immediately.

He said: “It’s a pretty cool job to have when you’re 15.

“We did test it unofficially but it was a few years before I could buy the beers myself.”

The placement led to a part-time job after school and at weekends and holidays, before his life took a different turn.

Mr Tillson worked as an accountant in a solicitors’ office after completing a business degree, but his heart was not in it.

He said: “I knew sitting at a desk just wasn’t for me.

“Now I’ll obviously have a little bit of desk work but I’m not tied to an office.”

He returned to the brewery in 2001 and was appointed second brewer three years later, before completing his master brewer qualification in 2014.

National pub operator Marston’s acquired the company in 2008 but Wychwood Brewery retains its home-grown feel.

Mr Tillson’s colleagues have all worked at the brewery for at least 15 years and they all continue to love the job today.

He said: “It’s very close knit, people either last a week or they work there for years.

“We all get on and that’s true across all breweries – it’s a very friendly industry.

“There’s a wealth of experience and that’s helped me.”

Last year, Wychwood Brewery was crowned the UK’s favourite brewery in an online competition by holiday rentals site HolidayLettings.co.uk.

Mr Tillson is determined to keep standards high and believes the growing popularity of craft beer means the industry is in good health.

He said: “We’ll keep doing what we’ve always done – quality and consistency is the main thing.

“There’s a lot of wonderful new creations, so it’s exciting times.”