Full and comprehensive reports were given by both the Chair, Ian Hunter, and the Trustees at the AGM of the Mill of Benholm Trust held recently in the Johnshaven Village Hall and the message, tempered with some words of caution, which came through was that it had been another good year of progress at the Mill.
Opening his report, Mr Hunter said that Project Manager, Mike Burleigh, and his team had continued successfully to develop the Mill as a training establishment, a tourist attraction and a beautiful community facility, this unique combination proving attractive to visitors with numbers substantially up. New developments bring new challenges, though, but Mr Hunter indicated that most of the present problems are the ones of success, manifested by the increased number of individuals and groups whose assistance over the year he was delighted to acknowledge.
The Trust continues to be grateful to Aberdeenshire Council for the excellent help and advice given by their officers, to Brotherton Estate for making the Brae Wood available for development, NHS for funding it as a community resource and the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers for carrying out much of the work. He also thanked GlaxoSmithKline whose engineering apprentices gave the water mill a good overhaul, “Biotechnics of Gourdon” for financial and product support and the Reid family and the Dunnottar Bodgers for their donations of wood.
Physical improvements around the Mill included the creation of a woodland classroom, a fern garden and interpretation boards while a croft flower meadow is currently under development.
In turning to some of the issues facing the Trust, Mr Hunter said that the most serious concern the Board currently has is the state of the river containment wall which is badly eroded and efforts are being made to attract finance for its repair. There have been a number of changes in the membership of the Board of the Mill of Benholm Project which now comprises : Norma Alexander, Sue Brown, George Carr, David Evans, Ranjit Fernandez, Natasha Hepburn, William Howatson, Ian Hunter (Chair), Graham Jessop and Andrew Vinten (Treasurer),