A CHILDREN’S charity has been given millions of reasons to smile thanks to the efforts of JCB staff – with a royal visitor helping to mark the occasion.
Employees from the Rocester-based digger giant set out on the Reaching Out to Children in Staffordshire appeal to raise £1 million for the NSPCC and Lord Bamford pledged to double the total to £2 million if the target was met.
The cheque was handed over to the Countess of Wessex, who is the president of the NSPCC, by Lady Bamford OBE during her visit to the JCB World Headquarters, where she met dozens of the employees that made the donation possible.
Part of the proceeds of the appeal has been used to purchase a service centre for the NSPCC in Newcastle-under-Lyme, which provides a range of services for children at risk of harm or abuse. Called Carole House in honour of JCB and Lady Bamford’s support of the NSPCC over more than 30 years, the facility was officially opened by The Countess of Wessex earlier in the day.
Pupils from Ryecroft Middle School and Dove First School were on hand to greet the Countess before she toured the Story of JCB exhibition in Rocester.
Her Royal Highness was presented with a posy by Lord and Lady Bamford’s five-year-old granddaughter Matilda.
The Countess of Wessex was introduced to more than 20 employees in the Story of JCB. Among them were three who this year join Lord Bamford in celebrating 50 years’ service with the company: Jane Staley, Lord Bamford’s PA; company photographer Michael Lee and John Smith, who works in group manufacturing.
Afterwards, Her Royal Highness attended a reception to meet scores of JCB employees who were pivotal to the success of the company’s £1 million NSPCC Appeal.
Lady Bamford, the wife of JCB’s chairman, said: “JCB has a wonderful history of raising money for the NSPCC. Being here today to celebrate the happy culmination of our campaign for the new NSPCC service centre is a shared moment of immense pride for all of us.
“We set an ambitious target of one million pounds, and it was reached through tough economic times; yet always with great enthusiasm, and innovation. Every single penny raised is being spent here in Staffordshire, JCB’s home for almost 70 years. The money is for a tangible, visible project. It’s a building that you can always see, and which is already bringing immense benefit to the community.”
Lady Bamford told an assembled audience of more than 150 JCB employees involved in the fund-raising that Staffordshire has one of the highest incidences of child abuse in the UK.
She added: “There is a long way to go ensure that children are given the safety they deserve, but thanks to your inspiring efforts, the children in care at Carole House now benefit from new facilities and a wide range of help, therapy and services all under one roof.”
The £1 million was raised through a variety of inspiring ideas. JCB Insurance employees Michael Gregory, of Rudyard, near Leek, and Jan Farmer, of Uttoxeter, came up with a high-flying fund-raising idea – leaping out of a plane from 10,000 feet in the air in return for sponsorship. Their efforts raised £2,500.
Ms Farmer, who was among the employees who met The Countess of Wessex, said: “It was lovely to see The Countess and for her to come along and thank everyone for their fund-raising efforts for the NSPCC. The sky dive was an exhilarating experience but not something I will be repeating.”
JCB has supported the NSPCC since 1986 through Lady Bamford who became involved when her three children were young.
Deborah Chandos-Hall, NSPCC head of Midlands fund-raising said: “We have been completely overwhelmed by the tenacity and commitment shown by Lord and Lady Bamford, JCB and its employees, in raising such a phenomenal sum of money. Every £1 makes a difference but £2 million is a dream come true, and a sum of this magnitude makes a significant impact on how we can reach out to the children who need us.
“We are extremely grateful to each and every person who has supported this appeal; although they may never meet the children in Staffordshire they are helping, I sincerely hope they have some sense of what a powerful thing they have done.”