Shopping centre Santa will this Christmas be handing out presents while sitting on a throne made by a company from County Durham out of reclaimed timber.
Pallet Earth, based in Birtley, 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.
But thrones remains one of its best-sellers. They are used by story-tellers 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.
Now shopping centres and arcades in Hull, North London, Teesside and Tynemouth have been busy ordering Pallet Earth’s thrones as the ideal seat for Santa.
“We lent a throne to a community centre in Birtley last year for him, so word must have spread. And I’m sure he is as concerned as anybody about the melting of the ice caps and that re-cycling is a good thing,” 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 www.palletearth.co.uk or see David and Clive on Sundays at Tynemouth Market; the Beamish Hall Christmas Fair from 17-19 November; the Winter Lights Night Market in South Shields on 23 November; Sunderland Market Square Monthly on 24 November; the Ashington Monthly Market on 25 November and the following day at the Green Beans Market at Whitley Bay Station.