November 2019 marks the 25th anniversary since the National Lottery was created. Since the foundation of the Mills Archive in 2002, we have been awarded more than £330,000 from the Lottery, through the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Their support has transformed what the Trust has been able to achieve.
Before I joined the Mills Archive in 2014, we received several grants from the Heritage Fund over the years, which enabled us to embark on ambitious cataloguing projects to digitise and make our information publicly accessible.
As soon as I started as the sole – and first! – fundraiser at the Archive, my immediate task was to write a grant application to the Lottery, requesting support to develop our organisation’s resilience through new fundraising initiatives.
This made it possible for us to launch our Heritage Partnership and Corporate Friend schemes for mills and other heritage-related organisations, and we now work with more than 30 organisations.
We were able to create our series of training workshops, designed to share archiving skills with mill volunteers tasked with looking after their mill’s own collection of historical documents, and offer a network of support for those taking part.
Our 2016 project, “From Quern to Computer”, saw us receive hundreds of contributions from people for the Great British Mill Race, a public crowdsourcing initiative that we trialled. People around the world helped us extend and improve our database of more than 10,000 recorded mills and mill sites.
Most recently, we received funding of £95,300 from the Heritage Fund for “Succession Breeds Success”, a 2-year project designed to help us action our succession plan. This has involved the creation of 2 new job roles and improvements in how the Trust is managed and governed so that we can continue to serve the public for many years to come. In 2018 we welcomed Lucy, our new Development Assistant, and we are still reaping the benefits of this Heritage Fund-supported project, which is funded until early 2020.
Since 1994, more than 44,000 heritage projects have been awarded over £8 billion via the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This support has been made possible thanks to National Lottery players, and the Lottery is using its anniversary celebrations to help bring to light the incredible work that so many charities are doing around the country, bolstered by their support.