A FOUR-figure donation will help secure the future of a wood upcycling project.

The Wood Pile Community Interest Company offers disabled and disadvantaged adults the chance to learn new skills by turning waste wood into attractive furniture at its base on Rennys Lane, Gilesgate, Durham City.

Now the City of Durham Freemen has made an £8,000 donation to the cause.

Karen Stubbings, who founded The Wood Pile, said: “The generosity of the Freemen helps to underwrite a major part of this year’s wage bill for our part-time support staff and relieves us of an enormous burden.

“Our main aim is to support people who are mentally or physically disabled or disadvantaged and help progress them into or towards jobs.

“We develop confidence and self-esteem and offer useful transferable skills that will boost their chances of getting into employment.”

Joe McElwee, warden of the Freemen’s Cordwainers’ Company, said: “Anyone who visits The Wood Pile cannot but be impressed by the energy and determination of the staff and volunteers or the enthusiasm and ability of those under training.

“We are delighted we can offer tangible support that will help achieve their goals.”

The donation was celebrated with a fire-breathing display by John Wolstenholme, of Durham City Jugglers, who helps at The Wood Pile.