Sat 28th Nov

It’s the first weekend of advent and Pitlochry is hotching with people at Pitlochry’s first Christmas Festival which includes 2 craft fairs and the Church of Scotland Christmas tree festival. Our Christmas tree was on the theme of mental wellbeing and we worked together with Pacer to make the decorations. Christmas is a time of great pressure for people suffering from stress, depression, ill health and bereavement and they need our prayers and support to help them through. That’s why the support groups here are so important. A pocket guide to coping through Christmas has been published by Plusperth & will be available at reception.

It was a great shock to us all to hear that one of our regulars Fred Smith passed away suddenly last week. Fred wrote books here with the help of Jim from Adult Learning and at soup lunch last Friday he had been telling everyone that his latest book had just been published. We’ll miss him greatly. Support worker Pam wrote, “You (at the Atholl Centre) had all become one of the cornerstones of his life: keeping a friendly, watchful eye on him and treating him with the great respect that he deserves.” 

The terrible events in Paris have affected us all and this month we have heard from 3 of our French interns. Clara says “I miss you”. Camille says “Thanks” (for our support) and Alexia says “Pray for France.” Michal has also been in touch from Poland. He is settling in well to his course and produced another new video with footage he took while he was here. Amazingly it features Fred. 

We took advantage of the launch of White Christmas to open for B&B this weekend, the only one this month where we have not had groups. We have had 5 residential groups this month including youth and elderly, able bodied & disabled, church groups & community groups. In the quieter mid weeks Iain & Anne have been to a number of training & networking events to improve what we do here. Iain went to the Scottish Conference for managers of Christian conference and outdoor centres and attended one of the Perth Business Week seminars. Anne went to a seminar about “The future of the Web”, a funding networking evening and a workshop on filing on your computer. She also picked up an award for our community garden at an “It’s Your Neighbourhood” presentation event in Stirling.

Generous donations of apples supplemented the first apples harvested from our garden so we could make apple crumble for our guests and Spiced Apple Jam (available here for a donation to our building fund). Talking about donations, the fund for our conference room has continued to grow and more grant applications have been sent out in the hope of reaching our total in the new year. Please pray for their success. After much deliberation we have ordered the AV for the new room (which had to be organised before year end due to grant restrictions). It will be installed when the new room is built.

Fillers for the Blythswood shoebox collection here were sent off at the beginning of the month and people have continued to give to the food bank. Christians Against Poverty held a special lunch in Aberfeldy where they shared how they had been blessed and been able to bless others through helping people out of debt and supporting them on that journey. They’re aiming to raise another £2,000 before year end to complete their funding. They use our foodbank as emergency aid and Iain picked up a fresh supply of their books and leaflets, so if you want to know more, do pick up their literature at reception.