20th May, 2011

What a busy 3 weeks we've had! We've had 2 major events in that time as well as the usual bookings and it's been all go. First of all we had the 2 open days. We hadn't a clue how many people were going to turn up, because even though we'd put out loads of publicity, very few people had indicated they would come. However on the first day, which was for the churches and included a display about our future plans for growth, we had 17 locals, and then about 50 retired Baptist ministers who were visiting for the day anyway had a look round the display in the evening. This fulfilled the criteria of raising awareness of both the Centre and biofuels in churches from around Scotland and as prayer points go up on this website and are distributed to other Baptist organisations we hope people will be praying for us, especially on our Prayer Day on 12th June. On the second open day it rained cats and dogs and so we had a select few again, but they included 3 local businesses who are thinking seriously of installing biofuel heating, people from major funders CARES & LEADER, who were both pleased and impressed with what we've done, and our English as a Second Language class, who not only asked good questions, but took the vocabulary from their boiler tour and used it for a lesson afterwards. The plant stall was laden and made a good sum of money and the guy from the Energy Savings Trust stall was kept busy giving out advice and gadgets. So a good day in spite of the weather. We're putting together a video based on the open days, so if you're really sad you missed them, you'll still be able to get a taste of what happened, hopefully out in the next 3 weeks. And if you'd like a boiler tour, just let us know and we'll arrange it for you.

The second major event was Etape Caledonia, an international cycle event based in Pitlochry. Over 4000 cyclists actually rode the course this year. Cyclists ride an 81 mile route, all raising money for Macmillan Cancer Care, and some for other charities as well. Some are racing to cover the course in the fastest time, which was faster this year than ever before. Some are completing a personal challenge to do the course within the 6 hours allowed. We even had local couple Alastair and Emily McCartney riding to raise money for the Centre. If you wish to sponsor them please email us at admin@athollcentre.org.uk. Highs and lows: A young couple, who met at the event last year, got married at the start line at  6am and were allowed to ride off first, there were tacks on the road for a second year initiating another police investigation, and one cyclist had a serious accident. So how is the Centre involved? Well, from the beginning we have been chosen as the event headquarters, so the police, fire and ambulance co-ordinators are based here, all the equipment and supplies are stored here, and the motorcycle marshalls all stay over at the Centre, so they can be away by 5 am on the day to be in place before the race starts. On the Saturday and the Sunday we are toilets, showers and tea & coffee suppliers for the marquees set up in the carpark next door, and on the Saturday we also have the massage people helping any cyclist who wishes to tune up their muscles before the race. It's a pretty full on event and Iain even stayed at the Centre overnight on Saturday to ensure everything was in place on time.

So it's back to normal now, a bit of a relief, truth be told. We've got a methodist group in this morning on holiday in Pitlochry. They've come especially to look at our Christian bookstall & have their morning coffee and chat while they browse. There's an idea!