After nearly 11 years of planning and fundraising, Fife Employment Access Trust (FEAT) have announced that a start date has been confirmed to begin the transformative works to Silverburn Park’s B-listed former flax mill. The complex task of restoration is set to complete in March 2026.

In October 2020 greenspace scotland featured this inspiring initiative as our Project of the Month - Silverburn: Heart, Mind & Soul describing the background to the project. It is a joint project between FEAT and Fife Council with support from Fife Historic Buildings Trust (FHBT). FEAT took on the challenge of rejuvenating the Park as a means to provide new opportunities to their client group to gain skills and benefit from being in nature to support mental health and wellbeing improvements and ultimately as an income generator to reduce their reliance on grant funding and donations for their core work.

Having raised millions of pounds and hitting their target, FEAT were able to go to tender earlier this year, but discovered that they were £2m short of current costs when tenders came in, due to the cost of living crisis and effects of war in the Ukraine.

Duncan Mitchell CEO of FEAT explained

We only had 90 days from tender returns to secure the most effective contract and therefore limited time to raise the additional funds needed. We have been blown away by the support of the main funders for the project, who have all uplifted their grant awards to collectively close that gap and ensure that works can go ahead, with a start date of August 2023. Those funders, National Lottery Heritage Fund, Scottish Government, Fife Council and Historic Environment Scotland came up with grant increases at very short notice and this demonstrates their support and desire to see the flax mill transformed.

Having secured total funds in the region of £10,000,000 for this project, it has been a fundraising campaign like no other we’ve seen from a local charity and I am so proud to have played a part. I also recognise that despite reaching this total, more money may yet be needed as we know from other similar projects that historic buildings can have many secrets and there will, I’m sure, be unforeseen, and currently uncosted, works that will be required over the coming years, so a gentle reminder to everyone that our crowdfunding campaign is still open and every penny we can raise will help to cover all eventualities ahead.

Further information about FEAT’s core mental health activities; Silverburn Park’s cafe, camping, events and volunteering; and the flax mill project and a full list of funders are available on their website

Although a huge team and collaborative effort, FEAT acknowledge the enormous impact that former trustee Brian Robertson had on the project. Passing away in February 2023, Brian had volunteered on the project for around 7 years and put in hours of work supporting with the development of plans for the flax mill.

Duncan Mitchell concluded

Without Brian’s input, we’d still be in the planning stage and we can never forget this – the mill’s restoration in no small part is due to his efforts.

Image: Duncan Mitchell with Fiona Young (Activities Co-ordinator) outside the flax mill, Fiona pictured with flax sown in the Park as part of the initial heritage information programme.