Christmas is coming - only 2 more sleeps! So why am I still in the office? Well for one, we've got guests arriving as a spate of family parties is about to kick off: Christmas at home for one family & we're putting up spare bodies, a Golden Wedding for another with the whole extended family staying here and having their special meal here, a 90th birthday (meal only) and a New Year get together (another extended family do).  The second reason is because Richard, new to our management board, is going to install a new Microsoft Office package on our computers today - another step in improving out IT and helping us to be more efficient in the office. We got 2 new computers during the month. Just in time as one of our computers was playing up, giving us a wee panic as suddenly we couldn't find our files and they weren't backed up properly - both problems are now fixed happily, but it focused our thoughts on good working practices and we're very grateful to our local computer guys who have helped us enormously.
We always intended to update our IT as part of the office refurb, but after the building work it was postponed to the end of the year so we're very pleased to see it happening now.
We had a lovely Christmas Gift in the post last week - a cheque for £20,000 - and we hadn't even asked for it, not directly anyway. It looks as if it is as a result of leaflets we distributed at the Baptist Assembly. Somehow the Goodnews Health Scotland Trust heard our request and decided to make a donation to our building fund. Brilliant! Thank you so much Goodnews Trust. We had 2 other donations from Trusts this month - £5,000 from the Tay Charitable Trust and £500 from the James T. Howatt Trust, as well as confirmation that money already promised would still be available next year and it's so encouraging to know that people are supporting us and willing us on.
More good news: Building Warrant for the chalet block and to put disabled en-suites on the rest of the ground floor bedrooms has been granted and the quantity surveyor is putting the final touches to the tender documents so the jobs can be put out to tender in the New Year. We're doing this now because we need firm quotes to apply to a new government fund called the Enterprise Ready Fund launched last September. It's a shame we have to wait this long before we can apply, but they know we intend to and have started preparations and we've started filling in the lengthy application form. So please pray for a successful application process. This one is a big fish to catch.
November had 4 out of 5 weekends of residential groups so we enjoyed welcoming both elders (Bellvue Chapel) & youth (Perthshire Youth Brass Band & Bearsden Baptist youth) and a few in between. November also saw our advent fair which went well with 14 different stalls selling crafts and artwork with the table fees going to Centre fundraising. We also sold some of our homemade jam as it had been such a good harvest this year. The run up to Christmas saw another stall as we entered a tree into our local Church of Scotland's Christmas tree festival, decorating it on the them of community with a shiny paper man chain taking the place of tinsel and lots of mini Atholl Centres (looking suspiciously like stables) with photos of our local community groups in them. We had a stall in their church hall over the weekend and sold more jam - this time Apple Butter which, when it was renamed Christmas Apple Jam, suddenly became much more attractive. It was a great time of music, creativity and  sharing.
Our community groups have never kept us so busy in December! We have little stickers for each one on our wall chart and it's fair covered in colour. It's also been good to have some community events and we're still being used frequently by Growbiz a local organisation who help people develop their own businesses and by the community liaison team from Perth & Kinross. All very exciting. Well got to go. Duty calls. Have a great Christmas and a Happy new Year.
 1st November 2013
So Iain's at the Assembly as I write & hopefully  we're going to have some new readers of this blog as a result. He's handing out a leaflet asking for help to fund transforming our chalet (the first 4 bedroom block to be built - 1970) into a disabled friendly self-catering apartment with 3 en-suites, one of them for wheelchairs & the other 2 ambulant disabled, and the 4th bedroom becomes a disability adapted kitchen/diner, while the spacious entrance becomes a lounge area. We hope to build this next year, but still need funds to come in to cover the costs. The Trustees took a step of faith however, by starting the tender ready process now ( we have to pay the Quantity Surveyor, architect & Structural Engineer as well as pay for a building warrant for this stage). This is so we can get our 3 quotes from builders and have an accurate idea of how much it's all going to cost in the end and it should help us as we approach more Grant Making Bodies for funding. We really appreciate all of you who have helped so far with gifts, fundraising events and prayers - our thrift shop last month made over £500. Keep up the good work:) If you haven't had the chance to help before, it's not too late. We'd love to hear from you.
October has been mostly a B&B month this year. Between the Enchanted Forest Son et Lumiere event, which seems to go from strength to strength, and beautiful autumn colours we had a steady stream of guests - some of them coming to work, not just to enjoy. The apartment was busy all month with ladies from the Steamie( now performing at the Festival Theatre till the 17th Nov) in Pitlochry for rehearsals.  A group of minister's wives  came for a weekend retreat and we also had a few day groups in for meetings.  
We had the Atholl Craft fair on for 2 weeks as well  - full of colourful gift ideas - and the WA lunch club, now taking place on a weekly basis has got off to a good start. A group of Duncan of Jordanstone masters students came to Pitlochry to help survey the elderly population so they could put together a picture of where they can get support now and what it could look like in the future. They stayed for 2 days, sleeping over here and using the Centre as their base. The walls of the conference room were absolutely covered in post-its as they assembled all their data. This is part of an initiative to help social & health services work with voluntary bodies & community groups to support older people better.  You can see their blog on
In November we still have one weekend going begging, so if you'd like to have some time away with your group or church try the 15th -17th Nov.There is still some mid week availability for residential groups too - could be a family group, friends, church or charity. The self catering apartment is  also available for most of this month. There's still lots to do here, so well worth a visit. After the Steamie finishes, It's a Wonderful Life opens at the Theatre on the 29th Nov. Birnam Arts also has a few musical events including  Breabach and Black Umfolosi 5. It's a quieter time of year to visit, but the scenery is still breathtaking and we've had some wonderful mists, making the Ben (Ben y Vrackie our local mountain) look like a floating island in the air. We're having an advent fair here at the Centre on the 9th November - a great opportunity to start your Christmas shopping.
November is also Perth Business Month and we've already booked into a few events to help us in our own training  & development. It's also a great opportunity to meet folks we could help or who could help us in the future. At one event Anne will be presenting the Atholl Centre to business angels (investors) and asking them to consider philanthropic investment. It's good to try new things:)
Chris just came back from 2 weeks in Uganda with a team from Pitlochry Baptist Church. Read our facebook to find out what he got to do & get some of his impressions. He'd definitely like to go back. 2 weeks was too short! We're glad to see you back safe & sound Chris. You've been missed:) 

  3rd October
Now we're in October & the trees are looking so beautiful. It's been lovely to watch both trees & bracken turn from green to amber,gold and red, each stage a marvel, and there have been some amazingly sunny days last month. A friend has been taking fungi photos & again what incredible colour & variety this year!
We were invited to the Press preview of the Enchanted Forest last night. It's amazing how they find something different to do every year. This year the title was absorb (hoping you'd be absorbed in the experience of course) and there was an orb theme going on - you could buy your own glowing, colour changing orb as you went in -  with a variety of mini shows to entertain and entrance and lots of different viewing points, some enhanced with orb - shaped frames. In my opinion it was more child friendly than before. There was even a story telling yurt with local scenes in felt on the wall where a clarsach & a lot of imagination supported the telling of a new to me fairytale. And you could take as long as you liked (as long as you made it back for the last bus) so we wandered about at a leisurely pace. We're open for B&B all month (only £25) , so you can come & see the Enchanted forest too (4th - 27th Oct) as well as the stag rut (just started), the salmon leaping and the trees in all their glory. Just don't eat the mushrooms unless you are very, very sure!
Perthshire Amber, the Dougie Maclean traditional & modern Scottish music festival is on from 25th Oct - 3rd Nov with evening & daytime performances, open mike sessions , song bus tours and country walks, so another great opportunity to enjoy Highland Perthshire in the autumn. Come & visit. We'd love to see you. 
There's one weekend left in November (15-17th) available for group bookings, so grab it while you can. We also have late availability on mid weeks in November. Maybe this is your chance to get a last minute break for your family or group. Phone us to find out more. In fact the flat is available for November and December now (We've just had a cancellation for our Christmas & New Year booking), so there's plenty of choice.

Last month was extra busy with back to back residential groups almost all month. After the African children's choir we had the ME week. As usual with people who are chronically ill, some had to cancel at the last minute because of their health, but those who did manage had a whale of a time. Iain had great fun giving the ME group an illustrated talk about Pitlochry through the ages (So that old Roman nail & rusty cavalry sword came in useful after all and the stone with a hole in it was confirmed as probably made with a stone age bow drill ) and Mary (in the kitchen)was thanked profusely for being a “kitchen magician” by the group as they have so many special diets to manage, which she did with aplomb. This group is open to new members so get in touch if you'd like to join them next year. The 6 Circles (disadvantaged group) stay was overshadowed by one of their elderly ladies breaking her leg. Thank you to everyone who saw that on facebook & prayed. She’s recovering well & in good spirits. Ruchill inner city church had a great church weekend & Crieff Tuesday Club (adults with learning disabilities) have just left after a fun weekend. They did pony trekking, target shooting & archery as well as enjoying the Pitlochry shops & cafes. They said," We loved your warm welcome, the freedom to use all areas of the Centre, the food & it was very comfortable. It was all fab - Keep it up!" they said. We're glad you had such a great time guys:) 

It's been a great harvest this year & we've received lots of kind gifts of fruit for jam making. Thanks for all those plums and gooseberries. Anne has been busy! We've a thrift shop coming up next week and some of that jam will be for sale to help us raise money for improvements to our disabled facilities. Again people have been fantastic in bringing bric a brac & books for the shop. So thanks indeed guys. That means there will be a lot to choose from. Come and have a browse. You never know what you might find:)

The WA lunch club has started up again for the winter months and is taking place every week this year. Open to elderly men & women in Pitlochry it's great way to meet people, find old friends and make new friends, so come along & give it a try. Art class has started again as well and is popular as ever. Pam, who's been our ESOL teacher for years, is going to retire. We'll really miss you:( Shhh! There's a party for her next Tuesday at 4, so if she's taught you, come along to say goodbye.

Chris, our general assistant, ( the one who smiles all the time) will be away for 2 weeks at the end of next week. He's going to Uganda with 9 other people from Pitlochry Baptist (the church next door) to help out at the Kitega Centre for disabled and disadvantaged children. They're taking out lots of equipment, toys & clothes etc, so if want to help them take more stuff & you're quick you might just squeeze in a donation before they go. It will be a great adventure for all of them, so please keep them in your prayers. Iain has the Baptist Assembly in Motherwell at the very end of this month. He'd appreciate your prayers too as we look for more visibility & support among the churches.
5th September 2013
Well the new website has been up for about a week now & it's looking good if I say so myself. I'm particularly proud of the new Pitlochry page with a calendar of all the events at the Centre which are open to the public for our local community and links to all sorts of visitor attractions for people coming to stay. What do you like best. Take a look and tell me:)
The staff bedsit is also finished (take a look at our facebook page for photos) and Wilma has moved in.
Amaia had a great time during her month here. It was amazing how many Spanish speaking guests we had for B&B while she was here - and what a pleasant surprise it was for them to be able to chat with her  in their own language. She went home sporting a BenY vrackie T-shirt as our thankyou to her - and she did climb it too (Ben Y Vrackie is our local mountain). As well as B&B we also had an elderly lunch club holidaying as a group and a group of adults with learning disabilities from L'Arche. Everyone ate together at one table this year and this has received a lot of favourable comments and made visitors more aware of our charitable aims, so it's been great to hear their comments.
The Craft fair went really well this summer. As a result of good sales they  raised £1,200  for charity (the result of an agreed percentage of sales), so well done them. A silent auction held  here last Friday/Saturday by the Baptist Church also raised a good sum - £1,800 for the Kitega Centre for disabled children in Uganda. They're sending a team from the church to Uganda next month and the money will go to buying equipment and toys etc. for the centre, which they'll take with them.
The 39th African Children's Choir from Uganda is with us now for the week to recuperate from their journey from the States and to prepare for their Scottish Tour. As well as practicing for their concerts they have their lessons here, studying their national syllabus so they'll fit in when they return home.It's some enterprise! There's playtime too & fortunately we have some games equipment for them to use to make visits to the park more fun. And it's so lovely to have them:) They sing to thank us for their food & give lots of hugs. Mary our cook is overwhelmed every time. It's so sweet.
On the community side there have been a lot of new initiatives from the council and voluntary sector to try to get community groups, social work and health to work together to support vulnerable people in the community better. As well as meeting here to discuss things, we've been asked for our input & support, so we're doing our best to play our part. Some post grad students from Duncan of Jordanstone Art School will be coming soon to take part in a project which should help us think out of the box. Please pray for this initiative, that it will shed light on the process and help people to make a better future together.
Next week Perthshire Open Studios will be on again. This is when artists from all over Highland Perthshire open their workshops for people to see what they do. It's real eye opener. What talent! Our own Kate Kirby (who sells greeting cards of her paintings here at the Centre) is teaming up with a jewellery maker for her open studio this year.So come to Pitlochry & have a look:) & you're very welcome to pop in while you're passing to see what we do here.
Monday 5th August
Michal leaves tomorrow. We'll really miss him:(  Michal came from Poland for the month of July on a tourism internship and has fitted in so well. We've just loved having him. As well as being helpful, polite & hard working he's also very sweet: when he set up Pam's room (the ESOL teacher) he wrote "have a nice day" with a smiley face on her whiteboard. Then he painted a sparrow on Wilma's new wall to give her a nice surprise when she comes back from holiday. But people must move on and he's now going to be working on a cruise ship between Poland and Sweden for a month. Meanwhile Amaia has arrived from Spain. She came 2 years ago and enjoyed it so much she's back - and already roped into the holiday club on at the Baptist church next door this week. 
B & B finally started for the summer at the end of the first week in July and we've had a steady flow of customers both from the UK and from overseas. Some people pass through Pitlochry on their way up to Inverness and find themselves looking for a bed for the night, while for others Pitlochry is their destination. We've had people doing the Rob Roy way, cyclists, theatre goers, birdwatchers, people coming for respite and even people who've found work here and need temporary accommodation. We've had some groups too - a church family weekend 2 weeks ago, a retreat group last weekend and an elderly lunch club holiday this week.  Fortunately we can have them at the same time as the Atholl Craft fair which is on for 3 weeks and there is some great stuff for sale - from bug hotels, which have been very popular (and no-that's not a reflection on the Atholl Centre!) to  fabulously leafy screen prints and delightfully tactile wood turning.They also have an art competition and one of our supporters won for the first time with his painting of Bruar Falls. Congratulations Nev.
Work finally started on the staff bedsit in July. It's taking shape nicely and we're really lucky to have 2 great workmen who've been proactive about problems encountered, helping us find solutions and going the extra mile So thanks guys:) So,the bathroom floor had to be raised to allow room for the pipework rather than digging into solid concrete, then that had to be cleared with building control with all the incumbent sketches - time consuming, but the best solution. In the end we bought a compact kitchen unit housing the fridge, sink and hob in one for the kitchen to make best use of space & time, but were able to reuse an old set of drawers and a spare bit of worktop for the rest - talk about mix & match! Then there were trips to Perth to choose carpet & lino & paint - actually a bit of a balancing act to choose something Wilma will like (she'll be the first to live there) and keep to budget rather than just going for generic colours. Nearly there  though & the boys have been painting in between preparing rooms for the guests (B&B means a lot of cleaning & sheet changing).
We've also spent a lot of time populating the new website ready for launch any day now. I hadn't realised it had so much content, but I suppose that's what happens when you're trying to cover so many bases at the Centre. The new site should be a lot easier to navigate and to find what you're looking for. There are a lot more photos on it too - and a new colour scheme. We hope you like it.  Pretty please;)
 28th June 2013

So, last time I wrote Camille had just arrived and now she's leaving tomorrow. Has it really been two months? And there seem to be so many going away parties - she's off to coffee with the English class just now to say goodbye, and was invited to coffee this morning with the Arbroath Town mission group who were staying here this week. Last Saturday she had a farewell coffee morning, which was her idea so she could help raise money for the Centre as a thank you for us having her and also so she could say she had organised an event for her course work. A big thank you to everyone who helped - and to those who came along - we raised £210 for the Centre. The baking was fantastic and so was the ambiance as we were surrounded by the wonderful artwork of kids from local schools as it was the last day of the Young Artist of the Year exhibition - they had their prizegiving later on in the day. Take a look at our facebook to see some of their pictures and models. Brilliant stuff! 
As for the fundraising events we mentioned last month the WA donated £450 after their coffee morning  in May and Madcaps £250. Richard completed his 81 mile cycle ride in Etape but we don't know the final total from that yet. Another big event this month was Alan Berry's (our chairman's) significant birthday party - How old??? Friends and family spent the whole weekend at the Centre and instead of giving Alan a present they donated to the Centre. So we're really making progress on our growth fund. The electrician comes on Monday to start the conversion of the old office into a staff bedsit, so we're very excited to see that plan become reality at last... And we had word of a pledge of £5,000 from Perth & Kinross Council towards our new accessible conference room. Excellent news:)
 Iain had a claim to fame as he had a story about his early years in the Centre (when he was here in the 70s) published in a booklet called "Life as we know it". A collaboration of writers from the adult literacy and English as a foreign language classes (who both meet every week at the Centre) as well as some other locals formed the content for this book and it was launched with great celebration at the end of May. The Hive was also a community first. Having its first meeting at the Centre, it is a hobbies club for younger Pitlochry adults founded as a result of the Big plan where a gap was identified. We wish it great success.
Over her 2 months Camille saw a wide variety of groups come and go. She made friends with Graham & Aggie, who come regularly for respite as Aggie is ill and in a wheelchair. Aggie and Camille both love to talk so they were often up to the wee small hours. Kids with heart disorders had their family holiday & although Camille found them quite hard to understand, since it was her first weekend here, they loved meeting her and as usual it was jelly every day (to get some protein into kids with small appetites) which is very unusual food for French people. The Fergusson vintage tractors came for an overnight stop on their way from Oban to Montrose, raising money for charity through this annual tractor drive. Unlike last year it was quite dull & rainy when they came, but we've just heard a fan has some good photos from this year, so we'll put them up on facebook as soon as we get a hold of them so you can see the tractors in all their glory - it's quite a display:). L'Arche (charity for adults with learning disabilites) also came for a staff meeting, Pitlochry being a good central venue for folk coming from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness and are planning to bring a group for a respite break later in the summer. Camille said, "I can see this isn't just an ordinary guest house. You welcome people with difficulties or who are looking for a special rest. The Atholl Centre really has an "Esprit particulier" - a very special atmosphere."
So safe journey home Camille. We wish you well for the future. On Sunday Michal studying tourism is coming for the month from Poland. Welcome Michal. Hope you have a great stay here:)
Thursday 9th May 2013

It's an exciting time to be working at the Centre. Last month we were privileged to be the venue and take an active part in Enable's Big Plan  which took place every Tuesday afternoon over 3 weeks.  The Big Plan is a tool to help people take their lives forward. We had 8  participants and their supporters from Pitlochry and Aberfeldy, some of them young adults with learning disabilities and some with chronic illness, came each week to make their own Big Plan. It was a real blessing that there was such a lovely atmosphere of security, welcome & trust, helping people to open themselves up to dare to do new things.  Last week was the culmination when each participant made an action plan to make their dreams reality. 2 brothers hoped to attend Enable's Friends United Network in Perth to make friends and have fun independently. Sounds easy but the real challenge is learning and having the confidence to use the bus to get there - a challenge for their parents too to let them go unaccompanied. One supporter at the Big Plan was able to offer to meet them off the bus and another offered to drive them home as there would be no buses running by the time they were finished in Perth. Small steps, big solutions. Please pray for the whole group, participants and supporters- the hard work begins now- putting that and all the other plans into action. Starting later this month as a result we'll be holding a monthly community circle to come back together as a group and encourage and help each other.

At the Centre we have our own Big Plan  to improve our facilities, bringing them up to date and particularly improving our disabled facilities so we can be amongst the best providers once more. Over the past couple of months we have received a building warrant to change our former office to a staff bedsit with en-suite and kitchenette. This will allow someone to live on site without using up a guest bedroom, giving us the overnight supervision capacity to make us more available for individual and family breaks as well as groups. We're really pleased to have received a grant for £2,000 from Perth & Kinross Business Growth Fund towards the costs and hope to begin the building alterations soon.  We have also received a pledge for £12,000 from the Hugh Fraser Foundation towards the chalet being converted into a disabled friendly self catering apartment and towards converting our other downstairs bedrooms to disabled en-suite. Although we still have a lot more money to raise before we can start these projects, it's so exciting to have such a big name show confidence in us and what we are doing.

The last 2 months have been full of community fundraising. Just before Easter we did a bag pack at the local Co-op, then we had an Easter craft fair on Easter Saturday and a Thrift shop in the second week of April. Between them we  raised over £900. Brilliant:) Since then local performing arts group Madcaps have had a concert ( with a star turn from an elderly fairy singing " Nobody likes a fairy when she's old.") and the ladies of Pitlochry Baptist church had a coffee morning. Both are giving part of their proceeds to us and part to other charities, so we're looking forward to hearing how much they have raised. Thank you so much folks.

 It's not too late to sponsor Richard Underwood riding in Etape Caledonia this weekend (81 miles)Go to to sponsor him on-line, drop off your donation here in person or send it in to Atholl Centre, Atholl Road, Pitlochry PH16 5BX. 

A couple of weeks ago we had Olivia (primary 6) for the day in Take a Child to Work Day. She had great fun as you'll see from her blog below: 

   My Day at Take Your Child to work Day
On take your child to work day Iain Walker had me as his child and the first thing I did was the logo for my question sheet which is for school. I thought that the logo was awesome. Then I counted Iain’s money. After that Iain and I took the money to the bank. Then we had tea break and we had the cakes that I made and brought in and they said that they were wonderfulJ.    
Then we went back to the Atholl centre I helped Anne Walker cut up and laminate things that were important for a display on Friday. Then I had lunch with my mum and then I came back and I made crispy cakes in the kitchen with Mary. Then I sorted out the book stall then one of my favourite things was to write this day up. Anne is going to put this up on the Centre’s blog.
                    By OliviaJ   
Our other new arrival is Camille our newest intern from France who just arrived on Saturday. She's here for 2 months and beginning to get used to speaking English and understanding our accent:) She studying a BTS  in management ( a bit like an HND) and comes from Nimes. In July we have another intern, this time a young man from Poland, who's studying tourism, and in August Amaia from Spain is coming back to volunteer, so we're having an international summer. 

Must go. Retired Baptist Ministers are in the middle of their reunion & there's lots going on.  

 Tuesday 12th March 2013
Welcome to our new blogspot:) We're  in the throes of  improving our website after receiving a grant from Perth & Kinross Social Enterprise Fund to have our website professionally designed. Thanks Perth & Kinross. So now we have a new location for our blog - hope you like it.
Although it's still just the start of the year we have been very busy these past 6 weeks.  Every weekend we have had a residential group which is excellent news. 4 out of the 6 have been student/youth weekends coming on a self-catering basis. They've been glad of the freedom to do their own thing and have appreciated the cheaper rates that self-catering offers. We also had a church family weekend and a deacon's retreat. During the week the flat has come in useful for workmen working on a local build. "We enjoy it so much better than digs." they said as they too talked about the benefits of being free to do their own thing. For the past 2 days we have had  a residential  mountain leadership course. They spend 2 days on the hills but coming back each evening and then another 2 days camping out, returning at the end of the week for showers and debrief.  As our boiler is now too efficient to heat up the boiler room for drying, one of the spare bedrooms was turned into a drying room with extra heaters & it worked a treat!
Community use has been getting busier - the past 2 days we have had 4 different community groups on the same day, so it makes for a bit of juggling, especially with a residential group in at the same time. So the Centre has been busy with conversation classes, adult literacy, an art class, Amnesty International, song & drama club,disability advice drop in, community forum and a prayer meeting just over the past 2 days. It's good to see so many people here.
Behind the scenes we've been busy with development work. There's been a lot of support from the Social Enterprise sector so as well as the grant to make a new website we've been awarded expertise to work on some market research for the Centre. This will help us to know what you want and need from us, so if you get a survey over the next couple of weeks, please fill it in, and if you don't and would like one, please let us know. We've also signed up for a business mentoring  programme through Perth Chamber of Commerce and we hope that will help us to fill in the gaps in our knowledge of how to run a business.   
The trustees have been spending a lot of time trying to take the new staff bedsit forward and a building warrant has been applied for now that the design has been finalised. We managed to get some cheap furniture through a hotel  refurbishment sale and are sewing curtains at the moment. The new office has been functioning for a few weeks now and we are getting used to the set up. It's a huge advantage to be more visible to our guests (instead of hidden away in a back room) and people comment we look like a real office now - not sure how to take that ;).
A few fundraising events are coming up soon. On the 27th March we'll be holding a Co-op bag pack in Pitlochry. Volunteers wanted to pack shopping. On the 30th March local artists will be having an Easter Craft Fair here and we'll be doing teas & coffees to raise money, so please come along and have a browse.
From the 8th - 12th April we'll be having a Thrift shop in the dining room. We also hope to have a plant stall there. Any donations welcome. Richard Underwood is cycling in Etape again this year  so please sponsor him. He has a spot on Justgiving. Go to to sponsor. Thank you for your support.

21st January, 2013

The first blog of 2013 and hope your new year has got off to a good start. Although the office reopened officially on the 7th Jan Iain popped in to the Centre almost daily during the holidays as we had several small groups of self catering guests over Christmas and New Year. The Centre has proved the ideal place for families who are too big to fit into the family house when they come up to share the festivities and our guests were really happy with the simplicity and comfort of it all.

Reality Scotland also had their last weekend with us in December. We're really sad that due to financial pressure they have had to wind up their charity. They had been doing such a good job and made a huge difference in children's and families lives. As well as trying to make sure all their clients are taken care of by other groups and agencies,all their workers have had to find new jobs and they have had to sell or give away their  assets.

We have benefitted from this by acquiring some of their office furniture & much of the last few  weeks has been spent emptying our reception lounge and office cupboards to move our office in there. (The Baptist ministers used the main reception area instead for  breakout groups this time and it worked well for them.) Yesterday the new furniture arrived and the room looks very smart and spacious. The next step is to move our files and computers in and clear out the old office. Then it will be free for the planned conversion to a staff bedsit. This will allow a member of staff to be in residence in the Centre without using up a guest bedroom and opens up more possibilities for B&B outwith the summer. It's very exciting to see things changing.

At the same time we have been doing a major kitchen clean & reorganisation so for a few days there was stuff everywhere. It worked out well because the snow has stopped  some elderly community groups meeting and also some where people have to travel in from more rural areas. The cooks have been snowed out for a few days as well, allowing us space to do everything we need to do in the kitchen.

January has been a quiet month residentially but we did have a minister coming to the flat for a few days retreat, benefitting from our special Christian workers retreat rates, and we had the probationary Baptist Ministers' training event here from Tuesday to Thursday last week. It was great to hear the Centre echoing with laughter and filled with animated chatter.  They gave us a lovely Thank you card, especially highlighting our "big smiles" as we served them. It was great to have you guys:)

January has also beena month of meetings as we investigate leads to help us grow. Chris and Wilma attended a cultural awareness day for serving guests from Eastern Europe, Southern Asia and China.  Iain & Anne attended a new collaborative business network meeting and had other meetings with experts specialising in social enterprises and business growth, who have both been very helpful. Our Trustees have their first board meeting of the year next week, but already various subgroups have met to keep the Centre on the move, so it's all go. Please pray for Iain and the Trustees as they work to enhance both day to day running and future growth.