AN APPEAL to raise £200,000 to refurbish a north Hampshire heritage attraction is up and running.

Dame Mary Fagan, the Lord- Lieutenant of Hampshire, was the guest of honour at Whitchurch Silk Mill, where visitors heard how the trustees are applying for a £1.7million Heritage Lottery Fund grant to bring the mill back to its former glory.

In order to apply for the funds, the trustees need to show that they can raise a percentage themselves towards the cost of the project.

Rupert Nabarro, chairman of Whitchurch Silk Mill trustees, said: “After two years under new leadership, the mill is ready to begin the process of major restoration and development at what is one of Hampshire’s most valuable assets.

“The trustees will submit a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund in August, entitled Preserving the Fabric, for a substantial grant to do the work that has been long awaited. That application has to be supported by fundraising and the board is therefore launching the Bicentenary Appeal.”

During the reception, guests heard about the plans for the mill, including updating the machinery and revitalising displays.

Mr Nabarro added: “The mill was at serious risk of closure two years ago and was rescued largely by the energy and diligence of Whitchurch citizens.

“Its finances and governance are now in good order and a complete audit of all aspects of its work has been undertaken. The trustees now know what is needed to take the mill safely into the future.”

For people prepared to make a substantial donation over the life of the appeal, the trustees are offering the chance to join a circle of Mill Benefactors, who will each be publicly acknowledged in the mill list of supporters and will be given an appeal scarf or tie, woven at the mill, in recognition of their generosity.

Whitchurch Town Council agreed a grant of £1,000 towards the appeal at its latest meeting on Monday.

Mr Nabarro had written to the council requesting £500, but councillors agreed to double this to show their support.

Councillor Claire Isbester, who is a trustee of the mill, told the meeting: “I will report back to the trustees, and they will be thrilled with your resounding vote of confidence.”