“Saving this mill has taken over my life,” says Alan Gifford, founder trustee for Heage Windmill Society.
“It’s the only one of its kind in the country, probably the world, and is such a significant part of history.
“That’s why we must fight to save it.”
Thousands of visitors flock to the Grade II* listed mill, situated between Belper and Ripley, every year to experience the iconic landmark. Built in 1797, the mill has ground 5,000 tonnes of flour each year in the centuries-old tradition, since it was restored to working order in 2002.
But in August this year, production at the mill, on Chesterfield Road, was forced to stop after inspectors identified widespread rot in major structural components of the mill.
Heage Windmill Society (HWS) launched a desperate appeal to raise £100,000 for the repairs.
The appeal – which has already raised £14,000 – has this week been backed by Amber Valley MP Nigel Mills.
Mr Mills said he would give full support to the efforts being made to raise funds for the repairs and would make a number of approaches himself to potential donors. He also suggested some possible fundraising activities.
Mr Gifford said: “It’s fantastic that Mr Mills has agreed to take up the cause. After visiting the site, he is really keen to help out and I’m sure he will go above and beyond the duty of an MP.”
He added: “The repairs can only be undertaken by competent millwrights and there is a major shortage of these. Every effort will be made to ensure the repairs are done as soon as possible.
“The sails will be removed in due course to minimise the risk of further damage.”
The mill will still be open to the public at weekends from 11am until 4pm with tours of the interior and a full explanation of the current problems.
Mr Gifford added: “We really anticipate and hope the public will continue to support us and come to visit the mill.”
n If you would like to donate, send a cheque made payable to the Trouble at Mill appeal to Danny Ashley, treasurer at Heage Windmill Society, 12 Woodland Way, Old Tupton, Chesterfield, Derbyshire. 6JA.