Have you ever seen leaf cutter ants at work – David Attenborough commentating on how they cut and manoeuver leaves many times their size, scuttling through the undergrowth to carry their burdens safely to the nest so that their young can be fed & nurtured –  feeding them a fungus they grow from the leaf mould I think.
Two weeks into crowdfunding & I must admit it’s been a slow start & I’ve felt discouraged. However as I was thinking & praying about this a picture of a leaf cutter ant came into my head. The ant stumbled a couple of times under its burden, almost dropping it but then continued gamely to the end, finally delivering its leaf to the nest. The platform is up for another 4 weeks, so please donate & help us make this accessible conference room happen.

As I’m writing a guest comes up with a donation. How’s that for encouragement! Thank you so much. While our on-line donations are at £255, off-line donations now stand at £1,300 so progress is better than I thought, but we’ve still a way to go, so I hope you too can offer us some encouragement & support.

Last week we were busy getting ready for a big exhibition in Edinburgh called KIDZ Scotland. It was all about disability living for families with a disabled child & was attended by over a thousand people and about 50 different exhibitors, including Anne & Michal manning a stall for the Atholl Centre. Over 90 people expressed an interest in staying at the Atholl Centre for a respite holiday and among them was at least one disabled school and a few local authorities and charities looking for places to recommend, so overall a very successful day.
Then on Friday it was Anne Pool’s funeral, from Pitlochry Baptist, & as well as  having some of the guests staying at the Centre everyone dropped tools to muck in & help prepare the funeral tea here. It was such a lovely occasion & a fitting tribute to Anne, who we remember dearly.
Going Solo group filled our weekend with friendly chatter & companionable meals & now we’re back in the office on Monday ready for another week. 
Here's our newest video - about the garden. Just one more reason why we invite you to support us. Hope you like it:)

                                             Friday 11th Sept 2015

I’m sitting here eating birthday cake while I write. We’ve got Persona Counselling training from Stirling University in this week & one of them had a birthday, so it’s nice to celebrate together & not be too serious as it’s been quite an intense week for them & I think they’re looking forward to a rest at the end. We’re looking forward to a bit of a break too as it’s been back to back groups for the last few weeks. Thankfully our hard work in the kitchen has been much appreciated as we’ve been catering for a variety of dietary needs, which has involved a good deal of imagination & juggling.
The ME group, who’ve been coming for a few years, were really pleased last week with all the changes we’ve made to our accommodation – the colours, the convenience of en-suites and the way they are ideal for folk with mobility needs were highly commended. “I’ve been in many hotel rooms which were supposed to be accessible, but none of them are a patch on what you have got here.” one lady commented. And in between those 2 we had Montrose C of S Youth Group !

 August began with B&B, meeting loads of new people from all over the world. These included a young English couple on holiday with her Chilean mother. They had never been to Scotland before & couldn’t believe how green and beautiful everything is here. “You are blessed” their mother commented. And then there was the small group from the Black Watch highland dancing group, Canada. They came to see Highland dancing in its ancestral home & Iain was able to help them enter for a local competition (where the girls won a couple of medals) & take part in our local Highland night. They thought it was awesome & thanked us by dancing for us at the Centre. You can see the video on our facebook. They also loved our homemade jam, which has been on sale in the foyer for our conference room appeal.

Then the wave of residential groups began. First came a group of vulnerable adults, here for a relaxing short break from the Waddington Street Centre and straight after them we had Stand International which operates exchange visits for disabled groups from Eastern Europe & Scotland, so we had fun with disabled folk from Romania, Ukraine & Belarus, & as well as doing touristy stuff they visited disabled facilities round us and in Glasgow & Edinburgh. You’d be amazed how fast some of these young things wheech along the corridors in their wheelchairs!

When Persona leave it will be B&B for the Blair Atholl Horse trials which is so popular rooms are booked out a year in advance, and accommodation can’t be found near the time for love nor money. This year it’s not only gone international with an estimated 100,000 people booked to attend, but it also clashes with Pitlochry Highland Games so the whole town will be heaving with visitors this weekend.

During all this Michal & Anne have been preparing for our crowdfunding appeal. We were so happy to get the platform up & running, and we were wondering why so few people had noticed when we realised that 2 of the links in our last letter hadn’t worked. So much for technology! Please use this button to go to our crowdfunding page & we hope you do feel able to support us. Every donation counts.

Meanwhile our work hasn’t stopped. As well as writing updates & spreading the news, we’ll be releasing cameo video stories at intervals throughout the campaign to help you understand what goes on here at the Atholl Centre, and today’s video features last week’s ME group as they talk about their holiday in our accessible accommodation. I hope you enjoy it.

Today's the Day!
Today our crowdfunding campaign goes live. The culmination of weeks of preparation we're so happy to finally get it up & running. Take a look at:

We really appreciate the way you all support us
...and there are many ways people support the Atholl Centre:

Volunteering  - thank you. You help with daily tasks or offer specialist skills such as gardening, electrical, plumbing, DIY, baking and illustration.
Using the Centre Thank you. Some of you make a point of using the Centre for your group event or personal holiday so you can help us support vulnerable people.
Telling your Friends Thank you to all of you who tell your friends  & colleagues about us
Training Thank you to all of you who give us specialist advice & training & help us network
Prayer Support Thank you to everyone who prays for us & for the groups who use us
Fundraising Thank you for taking part in challenges such as marathons or cycle events, or holding coffee mornings, helping with bagpacks or putting on music & drama performances.
And Yes - some of you donate and have been doing so for many years. Thank you too.

So what's different about this appeal?
Well, first of all it's largely on the internet.
We were awarded a grant from Santander to pay a social media intern for 3 months and after quite a few applicants & 2 sets of interviews we appointed Michal

 Michal caught our attention because he was very enthusiastic about telling stories through video as a way of interacting with the public and drawing new people to our cause as well as  enthusing our current supporters. So as well as making the main video on our crowdfunding platform he plans to make a series of cameos telling stories about the people who come to the Centre. That's another way some people have helped us, by the way - by being willing to be interviewed & tell their story. 3 of our cameos have already been released,2 of them filmed & edited by Michal and one filmed by amateurs & edited by Peter Murray from the Media Trust. We hope you enjoy diving into Centre life throughout this campaign.  Here's a wee taster:
 A big thank you to some of the ladies from Pitlochry Baptist Church WA:) You were brilliant!

A huge well done and thank you to Jim, John, David and Iain for sharing this amazing story with us:) “Emergency Scout Rescue summer 2014.”

Atholl Centre - bringing people together.A quick introduction to what we do here. Thanks to Peter Murray from the Media Trust for editing our first attempts at video making.

Secondly, on crowdfunding platforms you receive rewards and are publicly acknowledged for giving donations
This is a way of saying thank you for supporting our project and showing you we appreciate your support. 
Now we know that a good number of our regular supporters might be uncomfortable with this, as you believe strongly that giving should be done quietly and promoting someone else's well-being or happiness is a reward in itself. But don't worry, if you prefer not to be publicly acknowledged or not to receive a reward just email us at admin@athollcentre.org.uk when you have donated and we will thank you privately & adhere to your preferences.

So please go to www.crowdfunder.co.uk/atholl-centre-pitlochry and have a think about how you would like to support us.

If you do wish to donate please donate soon.
Statistics show that if folk who already know a project & have already been inspired by the enthusiasm & dedication of those who are running it donate early in a campaign, it encourages donations from folk who hadn't heard of us yet but come across our project on the internet. So if you were going to donate anyway, then can I please ask you to donate at the beginning of the campaign to inspire others.
Thank you J