The Countess of Wessex got to grips with an industrial vehicle when she opened a new £100 million JCB factory – and received a charity cheque from staff.
Sophie sat in the cab during a tour of the high-tech manufacturing plant in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, where she learnt about the site’s computer controlled production line, rainwater harvesting and heat capture systems.
In her role as patron of the NSPCC she later received a £300,000 cheque for the charity after an employee fundraising campaign.
JCB Chairman Lord Anthony Bamford and his wife Carole welcomed the Countess to the plant and the royal unveiled a plaque to the applause of hundreds of employees who had gathered to watch the occasion.
Lord Bamford said: “Britain, and Staffordshire, is a great place to manufacture and investing in Britain is something we will continue to do. Investing in this plant has, quite literally transformed our cab production business, bringing new levels of efficiency to our operations.”
Sophie met employees on the shop floor including Ben Emery, who joined JCB in 2006 as a mechanical engineering apprentice.
He now works as a manufacturing engineering manager at the factory and led the team that bought all the key equipment for the new plant.
Mr Emery, 32, of Burton-on-Trent, said: “It was fantastic to meet the Countess of Wessex and the whole team is very proud to have been able to show off our hi-tech workplace to a member of the royal family.
“She was very interested in everything we have done to make this a world class, efficient manufacturing facility which competes with the best in the world.”
Following the official opening the Countess attended a celebration to mark the culmination of JCB’s latest appeal for the children’s charity NSPCC, which the Bamford Charitable Trust has supported for almost 40 years.
Gathered were more than 50 employees who have played key roles in the JCB NSPCC Platinum Jubilee Appeal, which was launched in 2021 with a target of £70,000.
Employees smashed through the goal raising £150,000 and the Bamford Charitable Trust matched the funds raised by employees.