Mayor will host Valentine’s event to raise money for Dereham Windmill

Dereham mayor Kate Millbank )centre) has chosen Dereham windmill as her charity for 2014. With her a

Dereham mayor Kate Millbank )centre) has chosen Dereham windmill as her charity for 2014. With her are Alison and Brian Webb. The first event is a Valentine-themed fund raiser. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

The mayor of Dereham has chosen the town's restored windmill as her nominated charity for 2014 – and will launch her fundraising drive with a special Valentine's Evening next month.

The event will take place at Dereham Memorial Hall on February 15, including a luxury ploughman's buffet, live music and entertainment.

Money raised will be donated to the town's 19th-century windmill, to help with the second phase of its ongoing rejuvenation.

About £75,000 has already been spent on renovating the Grade II listed building on Greenfields Road, which re-opened to the public in September as an exhibition centre for local schools and organisations.

But now the trustees need to raise another £100,000 to build a 23-seat café and toilet block next door, to complete their aspirations of creating a thriving heritage attraction for the whole community.

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Mayor Kate Millbank said: 'I think they have done such a fantastic job. I came down here and saw it when I first became a councillor six years ago, and so when it (the restoration) was all done I was incredulous at how much has been achieved.

'I just thought we have got to support them, as they have got so many more plans. There are not many of these windmills left, and this is an amazing example.'

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Alison Webb, head of fundraising for Dereham Windmill, said: 'What we need is the attendance of the whole community to increase in order to justify what we are doing in the future.

'What is holding us back is that we have not got the toilets and other facilities here, and we need to get the funding to do that, so young children and the older generation can come and join in with the rest of the community.

Planning approval for the new community café has already been secured, and £15,000 has already been granted by the Garfield Weston Foundation.

In a bid to find the remaining £85,000, applications have been made to grant-giving bodies including the National Lottery and Breckland Council, to add to money generated from local fundraising events.

Dereham Windmill chairman Brian Webb expressed his 'great thanks' to the mayor for selecting the windmill as her chosen charity, and he said he hoped the fundraising efforts and grant applications could lead to construction work starting this summer.

Forthcoming exhibitions at the windmill include work from Neatherd High School from January 8 to February 11, Northgate High School from February 11 to March 25, and King's Park and Grove Schools from March 25 to March 28 – including a day of teddy bear abseiling.

The Mayor of Dereham's Charity Valentine's Evening to raise money for the windmill will be held at Dereham Memorial Hall from 7pm-11pm on Saturday, February 15. Tickets cost £16 and are available from Dereham Town Council on 01362 693821, Alison Webb on 01362 691164 or councillor Kate Millbank on 01362 695727.

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