AN OUTDOOR learning centre that gives children and adults a chance to experience the great outdoors has received enough donations to replace thousands of pounds worth of stolen equipment.

Chainsaws, strimmers, maintenance tools and diesel were among the items taken during a burglary at The Hill End Centre near Farmoor last month.

The Friends of Hill End said generous donations meant it could now order replacements totalling more than £5,000.

But the volunteers have appealed for an extra £1,700 to improve security before ordering the new stock.

Land manager David Millin said: “It’s so heartening when you have been a victim of something like this to know that there is so much generosity and warmth out there.

“We have had about £5,000 donated by volunteers, visitors and groups that use our centre.

“We have also had donations of equipment that have tided us over enabling us to run sessions we thought we would not be able to.”

Mr Millin said the centre now needed an extra funding push to pay for improved security.

The county council-owned centre, off Eynsham Road, is used by many schools for outdoor lessons about nature.

Adult courses are also held at the 65-acre site, as well as first aid courses and family days.

Chairwoman of the Friends of Hill End, Lesley Williams, said: “We wish to thank those who have donated towards replacement equipment.

“A combination of generous donations, a grant from the Ffennell Trust and use of some reserve funds means that we are nearly ready to order replacements for the strimmers, chainsaws, hedge trimmers, harnesses, helmets, jerry cans and more that were lost.”

She added: “But to ensure there is no repeat of the incident we must also invest in a secure storage container priced at £1,700.”

The Hill End centre was set up by mining entrepreneur and philanthropist Raymond Ffennell for local schools to use in the 1930s.

The Ffennell Trust was set up following his death in 1959 to ensure the centre continued to offer open air education, recreation and social and physical training.

To donate to the centre’s new appeal, email