Land Rover’s 60th anniversary celebrations moved up a gear on Wednesday when the Solihull company donated £1 million-worth of vehicles to the Red Cross.
It has given 60 Defender, Discovery and Freelander cars to the British Red Cross and its sister national societies around the world.
They were handed over to the Prince of Wales, the president of the Red Cross, at a garden party at Buckingham Palace. In an unprecedented move, the vehicles were arranged in the form of the Red Cross flag in the quadrangle of the palace.
Prince Charles visited the Land Rover works at Lode Lane, in Solihull, in May as part of the anniversary celebrations.
This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the Royal Charter being granted to The British Red Cross by King Edward VII.
The event was staged to celebrate and recognise the work of Red Cross staff, volunteers and supporters and the contribution that Land Rover has made to the global aid agency’s need for rugged off-road vehicles over the past 60 years.
Half of the donated vehicles will be taken across the world where they will deliver vital supplies and emergency response personnel in the event of natural disasters such as cylones, floods and earthquakes.
National societies in Sierra Leone, Lesotho and Mongolia are among those who will receive vehicles to ensure they can access rural and harsh-terrain territories.
The remainder will be dispersed throughout the UK to help with regional operations such as local flooding, off-road emergencies and public events. Some of these Land Rovers will be converted to ambulances.
The donation of the 60 cars is an addition to Land Rover’s commitment to raise more than £1 million for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies during the course of the next two Land Rover G4 Challenge events.
Sir Nicholas Young, chief executive of the British Red Cross said: “We are absolutely delighted to be accepting these 60 vehicles from Land Rover on behalf of The British Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world.
“ It is a fantastically generous way for Land Rover to celebrate its 60th birthday, and the 100th anniversary of our own Royal Charter, and will make a very real difference to some of the hundreds of thousands of people the Red Cross supports globally each year.
“Often those who are most in need are in the places which are hardest to reach; these vehicles will help make sure our staff and volunteers can continue to reach the most vulnerable.”
Land Rover managing director Phil Popham said: “Land Rovers have optimal capabilities for harsh and remote terrain access and this donation will ensure that those who are most in need are reached quickly and effectively.
“We already have an association with the Red Cross through the Land Rover G4 Challenge and this donation furthers that relationship.”
Meanwhile, Jaguar has announced plans to celebrate a 60th anniversary of its own - that of the famous XK nameplate.
It will be demonstrating a range of its cars dating from the 1950s to the present day at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, which starts on Friday.
Geoff Cousins, UK managing director of Jaguar Cars, said: “Goodwood is inimitably British and I believe the ideal location for Jaguar to begin celebrating 60 years of the stunning XK sports car.”
Land Rover and Jaguar were last month sold to India’s Tata Motors in a £1 billion deal after years under the ownership of Ford.
The heavens opened on the Prince of Wales as he held yesterday’s garden party in honour of the Red Cross.
Fighting his way through assorted umbrellas, Charles, accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall, grimaced at the grey skies above Buckingham Palace.
The prince apologised personally to one attendee for the rain, although it was unclear what the heir to the throne could have done about it.
The royal couple were one of only a few who declined the use of a waterproof fold-away coat, as the rain turned from drizzle to a full-on shower.
But the unseasonal weather did little to dampen the spirits of the hundreds of volunteers who had made their way to the Palace for the event.
Carol Heading, aged 62, said she received the royal apology. “He said ‘Sorry about the weather’ - why he has to apologise for it, I can’t imagine,” the volunteer of 15 years said.
The British Red Cross was granted a Royal Charter in 1908 by its then patron King Edward VII.