Mon 24th August

Get involved. Help us share the news.

2 weeks to go till the launch of our crowdfunding appeal & I’m feeling nervous. Have we managed to attract your attention? Are we getting you on board? It’s all so nebulous I’ve got butterflies – that reminds me of the story of the storm butterfly which just by  fluttering its wings can influence the formation of a hurricane several weeks later (chaos theory). Did you know there is a social media tool called Thunderclap, that if you can raise 500 followers you can use thunderclap to repost all Twitter& Facebook posts to spread the news? So this campaign starts with each one of you in your small corner – and we are asking you to help us spread the word about the Atholl Centre and this crowdfunding campaign. Can you help?

So why do we want you all engaged? Because that’s what crowdfunding is about – drawing a crowd. And what do we want you to be excited about? The new conference room we really want to build this year. And we’re so nearly there – this is the last push!
Here it is:
So what’s so exciting about a conference room?                                                Well, for a start it’s the last piece in the jigsaw for making the whole of our ground floor into a fully accessible holiday & conference complex with meeting rooms, a place to eat, en-suite bedrooms and even a fully accessible apartment. We’ve achieved so much over the last couple of years. This would make our ground floor complete. Those of you who have stayed here in the past will know how important it is to us, and to you, to offer equality of access to all the groups who use us.

But for the locals who use the Atholl Centre as a community venue it’s just as exciting because such a high percentage of folks here in Pitlochry are retired (25%) or have a disability or chronic illness (22%), so mobility problems are widespread & the current conference room upstairs has been largely useless for them. This new room will not only be easy to get in to (and out of), it will also have built in AV & loop meaning that the significant number of hearing aid users will be able to join in properly to whatever is going on, and when they meet for U3A or WA lunch club for example even videos & presentations will be accessible because the loop will be fully connected to the AV.

Thirdly, this new room will help to make the Atholl Centre more sustainable. How? First it will save us money because having our accessible conference room on the ground floor will mean no future lift costs – either to maintain the lift (~6K per year) or to buy a new one. Second it will make us money. We intend to open up a new income stream in commercial day conferences so we can earn money with this room when the community and residential groups are not using it to balance out the discounts we give to vulnerable & community users, meaning we will no longer have to rely on donations to keep us going.

Now do you see why it’s exciting? Please support us by telling your friends. Share this blog through your emails. Follow us on social media & share/retweet/repin for us.
Thank you J


                     Fri 7th Aug 2015

July was a combination of rest & very hard work. While the Irish Scouts had a great time on their self-catering break Iain & Anne were on holiday and Michal & Lucas our summer volunteers arrived from Poland. Immediately after that we opened for summer B&B. We’ve had a variety of guests from many countries and have had a few chances to practice our foreign languages, with quite a few guests from France & even a family from Brazil. The weather hasn’t been very welcoming, but it’s surprising how many people from hot countries like the cool & the green. We’ve also had folk in the flat and the chalet. It’s good to see the chalet come into its own as an accessible apartment and as accessible B&B. 
A recent guest commented," Our room was the best disabled room ever - you wouldn't get that even in a top hotel and the colours are gorgeous."

A couple of weeks ago we had a Free Church girls’ camp, again self-catering, so our staff  had some time off & a chance to be refreshed & ready for the next lot of B&B guests. The girls had great fun visiting the Highland Wildlife Park & Landmark amongst other things & it was lovely to hear them singing as they did their chores first thing.

Pitlochry Arts & Crafts sale is on again  in the dining room and 20% of sales go to local charities. This is a great place to do some very early Christmas shopping and a good rainy day activity! Open Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm Sundays 2 to 6pm, on till 15 August in the dining room.

A big Thank You to everyone who gave and helped with our Thrift shop. We raised over £700 and then a further £800 arrived from the Fargher Noble trust fund. Then we got news we had been awarded £6,000 from the Rank Foundation and another £500 came in anonymously. All this will help towards the new accessible conference room we hope to build this year.

We’d like to create a new conference room downstairs by extending & dividing our current dining room with a movable soundproof partition to create 2 large rooms, each seating 60, or when the partition is opened one enormous room, ideal for very large conferences & ceilidhs. The extension will have built in AV to bring our conference facilities into the 21st century and a loop system for the deaf which in combination with it being a ground floor room will make it as accessible as possible for all abilities. Having a completely accessible conference room will be a boon both to our residential and our community groups and we hope having up to date AV will also help us to generate more income through day conferences, making us more sustainable & enabling us to be there for those in need.

Currently we have raised £81,000 towards this project through grant funding & community fundraising. We still need a minimum of £29,000 and as well as waiting for news about a grant request for £20K we hope to raise the remainder through crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is where we reach out to people through the internet using social media like facebook, twitter etc. to publicise what we’re trying to raise money for & ask for donations. We will also be running local events to help us reach our total e.g. the Thrift shop here in July. Could you put on an event where you live to help us raise those last few thousands? We’ve a whole list of ideas if you need some inspiration…

Our big news is that we have at last recruited a social media intern to help with our crowdfunding campaign too. Thanks for your prayers. We had 7 applications and 2 people came for interview, but Michal impressed us with his creativity & video making skills & his understanding of how to get people engaged. Thanks to Michal we're now on Pinterest, Youtube and Instagram as well as Facebook and Twitter, making the Centre much more visible online.
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