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More than 320 runners embraced a party atmosphere to help celebrate four decades of a popular annual JCB road race.

They lined up for the 40th anniversary JCB Lakeside 5 and Fun Run cheered on by friends and family as they took on the five-mile main course and two-mile fun route around JCB’s World HQ in Rocester. Among the entrants were more than 70 JCB employees.

The event got JCB’s newly-launched £2 million NSPCC off to a flying start – raising £3,000 towards the target. Joining in the fun last night was company Chairman Anthony Bamford who cut a special 40th birthday cake to mark the occasion before sounding a horn to start the race. Among those on the starting line were his son George and grandson Caspian.

Lord Bamford told the crowd at the event: “This is a really special occasion, particularly for me as it was 40 years ago that I presented the medals and prizes at the first event. It is wonderful to see so many people here and fantastic to continue our support for the NSPCC.”

When the JCB Lakeside 5 and Fun Run was first run in 1983 just 95 competitors took part. They included former JCB employee Charles Bevan, 76, of Abbots Bromley, and current Race Director Mick Grindey, 61, of Uttoxeter, who have gone on to compete in every event since.

Charles, who was sporting Super Mario Brothers fancy dress for the race and ran with his son Jason – who took part as a junior in 1983 – said: “Forty years ago we decided to put on a run for the company. We got 95 people, but it has really grown since then. We wanted to give something back to the sport we had a passion for, so I’m really pleased that it has lasted for 40 years and is now attracting so many runners.”

The race also gave JCB employees the chance to honour the memory of a much-loved colleague who passed away earlier this year. Steph Cordall, of Cheadle, who worked for JCB for almost 40 years, was among the 95 competitors on the starting line at the inaugural race. Steph sadly died in May this year aged 60, less than three years after retiring.

To honour her memory, JCB commissioned a special trophy to be presented to the first JCB lady to cross the finish line - the Steph Cordall Memorial Trophy. On hand to hear tributes paid to her mother was Steph’s daughter Gaby.

Gaby, of Uttoxeter, said: “This means the world to me, my dad, and my brother – it is a huge honour. JCB was a huge part of my mum’s life, so I really want to thank the company for making this happen.”

The first JCB lady to cross the line was engineer Kendal Irvine who had travelled all the way from JCB Transmissions in Wrexham with colleague Lewis Cooke to take part. She finished in 47 minutes 59 seconds. First JCB man across the line was JCB Academy Site Manager Jason Burgess in 30 minutes and six seconds.

Kendal, 24, said: “I’m a Charity Champion for the JCB NSPCC Appeal at our factory so I really wanted to come here and take part to raise as much possible. I was a bit nervous about the course because I’d heard that it is quite hilly but it was a fantastic experience.”

The overall winner of the race was Ben Fish of Blackburn Harriers who completed the course in 26 minutes and 15 secs. First female was Chloe Hawkins of City of Stoke Athletics Club in 31 minutes and 58 seconds.

Among the other competitors were Ganesh Kanap and Dhanraj Veer who work at JCB India’s factory in Pune. Both are in the UK on secondment. Ganesh said: “I had read about the race back in India and really wanted to take part. So, to be here and run in the 40th anniversary event really is a dream come true.”

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