North East Connected

Christmas comfort for Santa in re-cycled thrones

A Teesside shopping centre has welcomed Santa with a special present of his own – a throne made out of reclaimed timber.

Not only will he sit in comfort as he meets hundreds of excited children, but he will also be doing his bit for the environment.

“I can’t really speak for Santa,” said Zoe France, the Centre Manager at the Parkway Shopping Centre in Coulby Newham. “But I suspect he’s every bit as concerned about global warming as the rest of us, particularly the impact on the Polar ice caps.”

Zoe acquired Santa’s throne from a company called Pallet Earth, based in County Durham. It uses discarded pallets, scaffolding boards, packing crates, cable reels and even trees to make more than 40 different items of indoor and outdoor furniture and gifts.

“The timber would just be dumped or burned if we didn’t put it to better use,” said David Revett, one of the company’s founders. His colleague, art graduate Clive Taylor, even uses pallets as eye-catching canvases for his paintings of local landmarks.

Pallet Earth’s range of products include a luxury bath tray – complete with prosecco glass holder – a grand-father style clock, wooden gravestones for Halloween and, as the result of a special request from a friend, it even made a coffin for his brother’s cremation.

Thrones, though, remain one of its best-sellers. They are used by storytellers in schools and libraries, as a prop in a Shakespearean production on a Stratford-upon-Avon stage and as personalised gifts for newly-weds.

They have featured in a Viking-themed marriage ceremony, a backdrop for tourist photos in Edinburgh and – painted black and gold – the focal point for an ancient Egyptian-themed event.  One has also been bought by North Shire, the hobbit-inspired holiday retreat near Saltburn.

But now, as well as Parkway, shopping centres and arcades in Hull, North London, and Tynemouth have been busy ordering Pallet Earth’s thrones as the ideal seat for Santa.

“We lent a throne to a local community centre last year for him, so word must have spread.  And I’m sure he’s a big supporter of re-cycling as well,” said David, who is 42 and a former radio journalist, traffic and travel presenter and teacher.

Although he and Clive are busy selling their products through the Pallet Earth website and at markets throughout the North East, a desire to reduce waste remains one of the driving forces behind the business.

“We started off with pallets but we’ve even been given trees from a pub’s garden and floorboards from a church,” said David.  He takes care of the business side of Pallet Earth, allowing 59-year-old Clive to focus on design and production. They are helped by volunteers but hoping to recruit staff in the New Year.

As well as all the items in its brochure, the company also provides a bespoke service: producing bars for North East summer festivals, a village for a theme park and book cases designed to stand straight on a sloping floor.

For more information visit Pallet Earth’s website

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