A CONSTRUCTION company based in Wiltshire brought staff and their families together to celebrate 50 years in business.
Neill Aitkenhead and Tim Saunders founded Stonewood Group in 1972 in Castle Combe and it has since grown to employ 350 employees in five divisions around Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Devon.
Neill's son Matt and his friend Ben Lang were the first people to join the company and have now become, respectively, the chief executive and chief operating officers.
When they took on the company in 2009, it was turning over around £2 million and last September, it posted a year end turnover of £60 million.
In an emotional speech at a party in Biddestone Cricket Club attended by 400 staff and their loved ones, Neill said it started as "a couple of likely lads, an old truck and two rusty acrows".
“I have an almost overwhelming sense of pleasure in seeing a gathering of this kind here tonight.
"Fifty years is a long spell, you don’t think of it as fifty years as you go along but if you doubt the journey Stonewood has made, I look around here nd realise the journey has been a remarkable one.
“So it is an obvious moment for me to pay tribute to Matt and to Ben, their generation, and the innumerable good people both on site and off who have made it all happen over time."
Staff worked up an appetite for the celebration's free food and drink with an inter-company tug-of-war contest which ended in victory for Stonewood Builders’ site team.
Inflatables, gladiator and football games, mini-golf and a candy floss stall entertained youngsters while adults enjoyed a bucking bronco and live music from Corsham band Funk City.
Ben Lang said: "It was a very special evening and a chance to see people’s families and spend time with them in a social setting.
“We wanted to really reinforce the fact that we are one team, one big family, and celebrate the fact that we have been doing that for 50 years. Finding ways to do that when you are such a big team scattered so wide is harder to do now so it was really lovely to see everyone, as well as some old friends.
“We’ve always tried to make everyone feel they are important, no matter what division they are in and we are successful because of that collective effort and the energy, drive, innovation and creativity within the group.”