Otterton’s ancient mill reopened last week and staff welcomed the return of a memorial bench that got washed away and was found on Budleigh beach.

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Flood waters washed away the car park and entered all the buildings forcing the business to close temporarily during the floods.

Staff worked around the clock to ensure the mill reopened less than a week after the floods.

MP Hugo Swire and Environment Agency chiefs visited to asses the damage.

Mill owners and staff worked around the clock on the clean-up operation, in order to be back in business as soon as possible.

The bench was swept away from Otterton Mill, in East Devon, during floods on July 7. It was discovered two miles away at Budleigh Beach on Tuesday.

The bench was donated to the mill by the family of Judge Polson, who helped restore the site in the 1970s.

Owner Caroline Spiller, who runs the mill with husband Simon and business partner William Casely, said “The bench has a definite sentimental value to the mill, so its return is a ray of sunshine after what has been a very difficult week for us.”

She added: “Thankfully, the flood waters did not rise quite as high as our last major flood in October 2008.

“However, they did still enter all of the buildings and wash away our car-park. Because of the flood management measures that were implemented since 2008, we were able to significantly reduce the impact of flood damage on stock and equipment. Having been through this before, we’re also much better prepared for the clean-up. It’s a devastating start to our peak-season, but thankfully we’ve been able to keep the closure period as short as possible.”

Caroline said: “I’d like to thank our customers for their numerous messages of support and encouragement during our closure and look forward to seeing them again from tomorrow.”

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