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Chairman praises volunteers - but windmill faces ‘existential’ fight

PUBLISHED: 13:25 14 April 2020 | UPDATED: 13:25 14 April 2020

Alan Ferguson is the chair of Dereham Windmill Trustees. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP

Alan Ferguson is the chair of Dereham Windmill Trustees. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP

Archant

A 19th-century landmark could face an ‘existential problem’ if more trustees and volunteers do not come forward.

Alan Ferguson is the chair of Dereham Windmill Trustees and is pictured looking at the town's landmark. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOPAlan Ferguson is the chair of Dereham Windmill Trustees and is pictured looking at the town's landmark. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP

Dereham Windmill is the last of several in the town’s district and was built in 1835.

Rescued from dereliction in the 1980s, the mill was recently restored as an exhibition centre and is now run by a small group of volunteers.

Although the chairman of Dereham Windmill Charity, Alan Ferguson, is “very pleased” with how well the small team have been working together, he expressed worries over low volunteer numbers at a meeting in February.

He said: “Our pool of volunteers, who act as windmill guides, helpers in the coffee shop and perform a whole host of other duties, does continue to age and shrink.

Dereham windmill. Picture: Sonya DuncanDereham windmill. Picture: Sonya Duncan

“We have just about held our own over the last year but if you are willing to devote a little time to the mill, I’m sure we can find an enjoyable role for you.”

Low numbers of volunteers isn’t the only problem at the mill, as the charity is also struggling to bring in new trustees.

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Mr Ferguson said: “Although I am prepared to act as chairman for a second year, I will not continue in that role in 2021.

Dereham Windmill. Picture: Ian BurtDereham Windmill. Picture: Ian Burt

“I do believe chairman should be a rotating role, but no one has put themselves forward to be vice chair and therefore chair designate for 2021.

“About the time we are planning the 2020 Christmas events, this will become a serious, even existential problem.”

The Dereham Windmill Charity have made many changes to its way of working over the last 12 months by providing the community with bus trips, zip wires and events.

The mill’s coffee shop has also partnered with The Partea Hut which has been a “roaring success” according to the chairman.

Mr Ferguson said: “I’ve been pleasantly surprised by developments. I‘ve been very pleased how much our small team has been able to achieve in the last year.

“Also I think we now present a more modern image that will hopefully appeal to a slightly younger generation of volunteers.

“I look forward to handing over to a youthful successor in a year’s time.”

If you would like to become a volunteer please contact Alan Ferguson at AlanFerguson@outlook.com or 01362 698209


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