JCB hosted its biggest party in its history celebrating the milestone 75th birthday in the sun.

Around 15,500 people soaked up the atmosphere at the JCB Family Festival, which was staged as a thank you to thousands of UK employees past and present.

The event was held at the company’s picturesque Wootton Estate close to the World Headquarters in Rocester, Staffordshire. Entertainment included eight live music acts – headlined by chart-topping pop star Sophie Ellis-Bextor.

JCB, which also operates in Wrexham, had originally planned to celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2020 but plans for a party had to be put on hold for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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In an ironic twist of fate JCB Chairman Anthony Bamford, who was due to address the crowds, was unable to attend after contracting Coronavirus.

Instead, his wife, Carole Bamford, welcomed the thousands of employees and retired employees who attended the Family Festival.

Lady Bamford said: “I’m here by proxy. My husband should have been here today for this wonderful family day, but sadly he has got Covid. JCB is family business, built on family values and you are all so important to us. I’m proud of what we have all achieved together. Today is a thank you from us to all of you for making JCB what it is today. Have a wonderful day, in fact have a ball.”

The Festival was compered by TV presenter, magician and comedian Stephen Mulhern who entertained with an audience participation magic show.

Another key ingredient of the day was popular TV chef Ainsley Harriott MBE who staged celebrity cooking sessions in his inimitable style.

Two JCB employees also acted as his sous chefs for the cooking demonstrations, Richard Doyle, who works as an Engineer at JCB Power Systems in Foston, Derbyshire, and Lauren Guyler, who works as Management Accountant at JCB Cab Systems in Uttoxeter.

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Also on the bill was JCB Shakeshaft, performing a medley of songs during a half hour set. Jake, who works at JCB’s World HQ, represented the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2016 as part of the duo Joe and Jake.

The event was invitation only and open to UK employees and their families as well as retired employees. They were able to toast their contribution to JCB’s success with complimentary food and drink.

Other highlights included a Spitfire and Hurricane fly-past, while back on the ground a 12-man Dancing Digger team entertained with their world-famous choregraphed routines.

A classic car show, ferret racing, Punch and Judy and an all-day cinema tent provided endless entertainment as well as acrobatic and strongman displays. There was also an appearance by Carters Steam Fair, a travelling vintage funfair with rides from 1890s to the 1960s as part of its last ever tour.