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More than 160 JCB employees will put their paddling skills to the test at the weekend for a charity event which is set to raise at least £20,000 for the company’s NSPCC Appeal.

They are set to take to the waters of the lake at Trentham Gardens on Saturday in a fleet of nine dragon boats watched by hundreds of supporters. The fundraiser is the initiative of JCB employee Robert Canning, aged 34, of Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent, who is also Chairman of Trentham Canoe Club.

Seasoned paddler Robert said:

“All the teams have had one practice session and even though the course is only 200 metres long, it is going to be a tremendous work out for everyone as well as lots of fun. One of the biggest challenges for everyone taking part will be ensuring they paddle in unison with one another and go in a straight line! Whatever happens, the weather is set fair, and we are really looking forward to a fantastic day.”

Competitors will participate in two heats, with the fastest two teams going head-to-head to compete for the winner’s trophy at around 4pm. Among the nine crews bidding for glory will be a team of JCB Directors.

Originating from the Far East, dragon boating involves single blade paddling in a boat of up to 18 paddlers including one who acts as a drummer to help the team maintain timing with the beat of a drum. In addition, each boat has a helmsman to help maintain a straight course.

Money raised at the event will go towards JCB’s £2 million appeal to support the work of the NSPCC in Staffordshire. The appeal is the biggest fundraising drive in JCB’s history and will culminate in 2025 when the company celebrates its 80th anniversary – and 40 years of support for the UK’s leading children’s charity.

The NSPCC helps to keep more than a million children safer through its work with schools, national helplines, and specialist centres such as Carole House in Newcastle-under-Lyme, which was named in honour of Carole Bamford. It was through Lady Bamford that the NSPCC originally became JCB’s nominated charity, with millions of pounds raised over the years.

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