Stage set for biggest birthday party of the year in Sheffield park - and everyone's invited

JG Graves
JG Graves
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The biggest birthday party of the year in Sheffield is fast approaching, as the city prepares to thank its most generous benefactor.

JG Graves bestowed numerous gifts on the city he made his home - most famously the gallery and park which bear his name, but many more beside.

Graves Park, where the party will take place

Graves Park, where the party will take place

Now Sheffielders are being asked to show their gratitude at a big bash in Graves Park next Sunday, August 19, celebrating what would have been the mail order magnate's 152nd birthday.

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The park will be abuzz with donkey rides, magic shows, sports, live music and much more at the free event in honour of one of the city's favourite adopted sons.

But there is a serious side to the fun, with the celebrations highlighting the good work being done by Sheffield's modern-day philanthropists and encouraging more people to follow in the great man's footsteps by donating their time and money to make the city a better place.

Sheffield Guide Dogs, Age UK, Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind and Portland Works, a cooperative helping the city's artists, craftspeople and other creative souls flourish, will all be showcasing their work.

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Meanwhile, revellers can learn more about the birthday boy John George by attending a talk about his remarkable rise from apprentice watchmaker to one of the country's wealthiest men.

Diana Stimely, who has organised the party, said: "JG Graves did a huge amount for the people of Sheffield - much more than most people realise today - which is why we're throwing him a birthday party to say thanks.

"If he were around today I think he would be delighted to see people from all over the city come together and enjoy themselves on such a happy occasion in this lovely park he left them."

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JG Graves was born in Lincolnshire in 1866 and moved to Sheffield aged 14 to become an apprentice watchmaker. Six years later he launched his own watchmaking business, which rapidly expanded into the mail order empire through which he amassed his fortune.

He became the city's lord mayor in 1926, three years before being awarded the freedom of the city three years later, and his many gifts to the city included Ecclesall Woods, Tinsley playing fields and Blacka Moor. He died in 1945.

* The JG Graves Birthday Party will run from 10.30am to 4.30pm and entry will be free.


Sunday, August 19, 10.30am-4.30pm

ALL DAY EVENTS (at the arena near the park café, unless stated)

* Sheffield Guide Dogs - meet the animals

* Age UK - learn about their work

* Portland Works - find out more about the creative firms it helps

* JG Graves Gazebo One - grab a quiz for children to complete in the farm

* JG Graves Gazebo Two - toys available for youngsters to decorate and take home

* Donkey rides

* Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind - hear about the difference they make to people's lives

* Pitch and putt (near the Ashmore Road entrance) - test your skills on the course

* Graves Park Bowling Club (near the Ashmore Road entrance) - try your hand at the sport with help from members, between 11am and 5pm

* Graves Health and Sports Centre (near the Ashmore Road entrance) - children's tennis sessions from 12pm-4pm

* Cricket pitch (near the Ashmore Road entrance) - cricket lessons from 12pm-4.30pm

MORNING EVENTS (at the arena unless stated)

10.45am-11.15am - Barney Baloney magic show

11.15am-11.45am - Dancing for children

AFTERNOON EVENTS (at the arena unless stated)

12pm-1pm - Mother-and-son singing duo Patricia Lynn and Stevie Moore

1.15pm-1.50pm - World music, including Appalachian tunes

2pm-2.50pm - The JG Graves story - hear what he did for the city of Sheffield

3pm-4pm - Dronfield Genquip Band