For those who think sponsorship is all about supporting high profile projects, guaranteed to attract the best media coverage, Akzo Nobel is showing that it’s willing to lend a hand here and there to prove the opposite, even in the remotestspots.
Last year, the company’s Decorative Coatings Europe business unit started helping with the renovation of an historic windmill in Westerwijtwerd, a remote village of 200 inhabitants in the Dutch province of Groningen in the north of the country, far from the sponsorship hotspots of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague.
About 18 months ago, a small group of local residentsgot together to form a foundation to restore the dilapidated Zeldenrust mill to its former glory. Built in 1841 by a corn merchant by the name of Ebel Tjark Ebels, the mill served the needs of the village for more than 100 years before falling into disuse and decay 20 years ago.
The first objective the foundation set itself was to find sponsors willing to provide the funding and the materials required for a facelift.
Now, with sponsorship in place and the materials to hand—including a batch of the Sikkens paint brand’s high quality Rubbol AZ (purchased at a very high discount), as well as expert technical assistance in the form of an advisor—local volunteers are attacking the project with gusto.
For weeks villagers have been hard at work painting the individual parts of the cap, a time intensive job requiring the very best paint if the structure is to withstand the elements. The cap has now been put back in place and work is due to start on the superstructure of the mill.
Of course, historic spots just wouldn’t be historic if they didn’t yield up some weird and wonderful tales, and Westerwijtwerd—famous like all Groningen villages for its thick pea soup and minute cafes—is no exception to the rule.
Local legend has it that a piece of land close to the village where once had stood a ‘wier’—mounds often comprised of rubbish and manure deposited over the centuries and now leveled off—is haunted by a huge menacing black hound and three ghostly female apparitions. It won’t scare off Sikkens though.