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.