A TRAINING and conference centre set up using the multi-million pound inheritance of one woman has been serving the North-East for a decade.

Jane Ritchie unexpectedly became a millionaire overnight following the death of her cousin, Margery Freeman, who left £9m to her more than ten years ago.

Keen to remain humble and enjoy a normal life, she spent only £150 on herself to buy a wedding hat and a rhubarb forcer and invested the remaining sum - minus £3m which she lost to the taxman - to benefit young people.

The now 70-year-old set up two charities, the Vocational Learning Trust, which aims to support learning for young people, and not for profit organisation, The Work Place, on Aycliffe Business Park, in Newton Aycliffe, which has now been operating for ten years.

Ms Ritchie, now based in North Yorkshire, said: “The fantastic accomplishments of The Work Place over the last ten years have been achieved because of the brilliant team who work there.

“I’m incredibly proud of the business’ success and I’m looking forward to seeing The Work Place continue to provide a useful facility for the region.”

The Work Place became home to small businesses and now provides training, interview, seminar and networking, meetings and conference facilities.

It has welcomed a number of tenants including DurhamWorks and Durham County Council’s Improving Progression Team and is the venue of choice for Durham Police and County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, which deliver informative sessions to more 7,000 local students each year.

More than 20,000 trainees have undertaken numerous courses including first aid at work and food safety at the centre which is also one of the few places in the region to have delivered mental health first aid courses to support young people.

Profits are donated to the charity so they can be reinvested, allowing young people to continue to benefit from the services provided.

Julie Turnbull, centre administrator, said: “The Work Place’s performance has improved year-on-year since we opened in 2008, it’s amazing and we’re continuing to build on this success.

"We’re proud to offer facilities to upskill the region’s work force and we’re looking forward to the next ten years.”

An anniversary celebration was held at the centre last Friday. For more details visit twpa.org.uk