Friday 11th Sept 2015

I’m sitting here eating birthday cake while I write. We’ve got Persona Counselling training from Stirling University in this week & one of them had a birthday, so it’s nice to celebrate together & not be too serious as it’s been quite an intense week for them & I think they’re looking forward to a rest at the end. We’re looking forward to a bit of a break too as it’s been back to back groups for the last few weeks. Thankfully our hard work in the kitchen has been much appreciated as we’ve been catering for a variety of dietary needs, which has involved a good deal of imagination & juggling.
The ME group, who’ve been coming for a few years, were really pleased last week with all the changes we’ve made to our accommodation – the colours, the convenience of en-suites and the way they are ideal for folk with mobility needs were highly commended. “I’ve been in many hotel rooms which were supposed to be accessible, but none of them are a patch on what you have got here.” one lady commented. And in between those 2 we had Montrose C of S Youth Group !

 August began with B&B, meeting loads of new people from all over the world. These included a young English couple on holiday with her Chilean mother. They had never been to Scotland before & couldn’t believe how green and beautiful everything is here. “You are blessed” their mother commented. And then there was the small group from the Black Watch highland dancing group, Canada. They came to see Highland dancing in its ancestral home & Iain was able to help them enter for a local competition (where the girls won a couple of medals) & take part in our local Highland night. They thought it was awesome & thanked us by dancing for us at the Centre. You can see the video on our facebook. They also loved our homemade jam, which has been on sale in the foyer for our conference room appeal.

Then the wave of residential groups began. First came a group of vulnerable adults, here for a relaxing short break from the Waddington Street Centre and straight after them we had Stand International which operates exchange visits for disabled groups from Eastern Europe & Scotland, so we had fun with disabled folk from Romania, Ukraine & Belarus, & as well as doing touristy stuff they visited disabled facilities round us and in Glasgow & Edinburgh. You’d be amazed how fast some of these young things wheech along the corridors in their wheelchairs!

When Persona leave it will be B&B for the Blair Atholl Horse trials which is so popular rooms are booked out a year in advance, and accommodation can’t be found near the time for love nor money. This year it’s not only gone international with an estimated 100,000 people booked to attend, but it also clashes with Pitlochry Highland Games so the whole town will be heaving with visitors this weekend.

During all this Michal & Anne have been preparing for our crowdfunding appeal. We were so happy to get the platform up & running, and we were wondering why so few people had noticed when we realised that 2 of the links in our last letter hadn’t worked. So much for technology! Please use this button to go to our crowdfunding page & we hope you do feel able to support us. Every donation counts.

Meanwhile our work hasn’t stopped. As well as writing updates & spreading the news, we’ll be releasing cameo video stories at intervals throughout the campaign to help you understand what goes on here at the Atholl Centre, and today’s video features last week’s ME group as they talk about their holiday in our accessible accommodation. I hope you enjoy it.

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