Mon 1st Feb 2016

Happy New Year! - I'll just squeeze it in as this is the first blog of 2016, but already January is over and we're into month 2. So here's your catch up:

Christmas with the African Children's Choir
December was unusually busy with a 10 day visit from the African Children's choir on their Christmas break. It was lovely to have them again & great fun was had by all, with a surprise appearance from "Santa" in the form of Brian Downs. Pitlochry Baptist also enjoyed  hearing them sing when they came for the service on the Sunday before Christmas. Thank you to everyone who gave them gifts & presents.

January has been a quiet month on the residential side with the flat & chalet being used over New Year, but otherwise no groups to stay. This has allowed us to smarten up the upstairs bedrooms and corridors with a fresh coat of paint and a new carpet in room 11. Our new volunteer John has been a real star & he & Chris have done a sterling job. However this is a good time of year for ministers to come for retreats & short breaks. We had Eder & friends from Brazil (via Edinburgh) and today Grant arrived to stay in the flat. "Just finishing day 1 of a retreat in Pitlochry. I came here hoping to hear from God and I am not being disappointed. The weather is crazy outside but this has been one of the most peaceful days I've experienced in a long time."

Our community groups have started up again however and it's nice to have a constant stream of people most days and to feel appreciated and supported by those who use us. Iain & Anne were kindly invited to the U3A annual dinner - a lovely gesture by one of the groups who use us frequently. And they were invited to show photos of their recent trip to their son's wedding in China at the WA soup lunch. So wonderful to feel part of a bigger family and to have so many people interested in our lives. So the Atholl Centre family feel works both ways - supporting & encouraging our users, but also being encouraged by them.

January has also seen a rise in those using the foodbank. While we're glad to help, it's sad this service is needed.

New books for sale
What would you like to read?
This month we also took the opportunity to refresh our bookstall and have about 40 new titles to stimulate heart, mind & soul. What are you searching for?

We had a day conference with the Scottish Government and the Community Planning Partnership with delegates from all over Scotland last week . They were really enthusiastic about us as a venue, saying, "We wanted to bring people somewhere more ‘human’ than the usual corporate type venue and the Atholl Centre proved to be exactly the right choice. The importance of a personal touch was a theme in our conversations about how to improve public services across Scotland and the way you both took the time to look after us was much appreciated." So again this was a huge source of encouragement.

The other day we thought hardly anyone would turn up to WA soup lunch as the rain was horizontal and the wind was blowing people off their feet. But come 12  o'clock the wind had died and the sun come out & over 30 people had turned up! However the following day  there were supposed to be folk in the flat, the chalet and in for a committee meeting from different parts of the country, but snow and high winds  saw all those cancelled.

Earlier in the month we had flooding in Pitlochry as well. The Dam was overflowing spectacularly, the co-op was flooded and many shops on the main street had flooding in their basements. It's at times like this you realise just how many burns (streams) there are in Pitlochry. Compared to other places we have got off lightly though.

Winter weather's not all bad news as the snow on our beautiful countryside here looks absolutely stunning and there have been some lovely photos taken, especially of local mountain Ben y Vrackie. The fishing season opened on schedule and the ski season has been going well. Winter Words is on at the theatre too.
Winter words on at the theatre
So if you can get here, do. There's plenty of availability in the flat and the chalet and also, since 2 weekends in February (12 - 14th & 19th - 21st) were cancelled in January we have late availability for group bookings in February. Get in there while you can. We've been amazed how many organisations book their conference speaker before they have a venue and then experience problems with last minute venue bookings, as like us many venues are booked up at least a year in advance. So do take the opportunity to book for next year too. Just give us a phone (01796 473044) or drop us an email (

We'll also be open for B&B at the Easter weekend and from the 4th - 15th April, so book now & get in at the head of the queue.

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