Thursday 25th Feb 2016

Did you ever get that feeling the weather just can't make up it's mind? We've been having beautiful sunshine here for the past week and today it snowed again. It's wonderful to see the spring flowers begin to bloom - snowdrops, winter aconites & even catkins.

 And Pitlochry community has been emerging too with Lent meetings hosted by Churches Working Together in the run up to an early Easter this year, a Big Hearted Valentine's Day Ceilidh to raise funds for refugees and a packed NHS consultation on how to improve out of hours provision in rural areas.

More community groups have got going here at the Atholl Centre too. Madcaps music & drama and Art classes started up again this month, both led by ladies who have worked hard to serve their community, but who have had a series of health knocks over the past wee while, so praise God they're on the mend now. Fiona Johnstone, community liaison for PKAVS, another lady who gives endlessly for the community is ill just now. Please pray for her. And talking about illness, Eve (English as  Foreign Language teacher) who had to give up due to ill health hasn't yet been replaced. So that's another thing you can pray for as a fresh surge of foreign workers will be arriving in Pitlochry soon for the tourist season.

Staff here have been affected by the nasty colds /flu going round too so maybe it's just as well we were less busy at weekends than we anticipated with just 2 weekend groups this month - Persona Counselling training & Dundee Central Baptist Church. 2 day conferences also took place this month and we had a small retreat group  in the Chalet and a personal retreat in the flat. 
Ben Y Vrackie from the top of Pitlochryn

There is plenty of availability for self-catering in the flat & the chalet coming up so do recommend us to your friends. We'll shortly be putting them on to ensure they get used, so get in now before it gets busy. You can book on our website or at or call us on 01796 473044.

 We'll also be open for B&B at the Easter weekend and in the first 2 weeks of April to fit in with the school Easter holidays. I read an interesting article recently about a scientific study pinpointing how nature promotes well-being and we've plenty of nature here, so come & enjoy it & tell your friends.

We're holding 2 Thrift shops over the Easter holidays too. The first week (4th-9th April) is to help us raise funds for the new conference room (see below). The second (9th- 14th April) is to help raise funds for the Red Cross and Medecins Sans Frontieres to help out with the ongoing refugee crisis, so please donate goods & come & buy too.

This month has seen plenty of activity from our Trustees with a Council of Management meeting looking at last year's accounts and making future plans. We're pleased to say we're really making  progress with the plans for the new Conference Room. We were 3 grants away from complete funding, but we got a phone call yesterday confirming a grant of £7,500 from the Northwood Trust, which is excellent news, so now only 2 to go. We're presenting a complex application to LEADER, who meet in April for a crucial chunk of funding and also have an important application in to the CMH Trust who meet in March. We're getting so close to finally building! Please pray. 

Last blog I showed the Nick Vujicic book for sale here at the Centre. Here's a video to whet your appetite and make you smile:)

 Mon 1st Feb 2016

Happy New Year! - I'll just squeeze it in as this is the first blog of 2016, but already January is over and we're into month 2. So here's your catch up:

Christmas with the African Children's Choir
December was unusually busy with a 10 day visit from the African Children's choir on their Christmas break. It was lovely to have them again & great fun was had by all, with a surprise appearance from "Santa" in the form of Brian Downs. Pitlochry Baptist also enjoyed  hearing them sing when they came for the service on the Sunday before Christmas. Thank you to everyone who gave them gifts & presents.

January has been a quiet month on the residential side with the flat & chalet being used over New Year, but otherwise no groups to stay. This has allowed us to smarten up the upstairs bedrooms and corridors with a fresh coat of paint and a new carpet in room 11. Our new volunteer John has been a real star & he & Chris have done a sterling job. However this is a good time of year for ministers to come for retreats & short breaks. We had Eder & friends from Brazil (via Edinburgh) and today Grant arrived to stay in the flat. "Just finishing day 1 of a retreat in Pitlochry. I came here hoping to hear from God and I am not being disappointed. The weather is crazy outside but this has been one of the most peaceful days I've experienced in a long time."

Our community groups have started up again however and it's nice to have a constant stream of people most days and to feel appreciated and supported by those who use us. Iain & Anne were kindly invited to the U3A annual dinner - a lovely gesture by one of the groups who use us frequently. And they were invited to show photos of their recent trip to their son's wedding in China at the WA soup lunch. So wonderful to feel part of a bigger family and to have so many people interested in our lives. So the Atholl Centre family feel works both ways - supporting & encouraging our users, but also being encouraged by them.

January has also seen a rise in those using the foodbank. While we're glad to help, it's sad this service is needed.

New books for sale
What would you like to read?
This month we also took the opportunity to refresh our bookstall and have about 40 new titles to stimulate heart, mind & soul. What are you searching for?

We had a day conference with the Scottish Government and the Community Planning Partnership with delegates from all over Scotland last week . They were really enthusiastic about us as a venue, saying, "We wanted to bring people somewhere more ‘human’ than the usual corporate type venue and the Atholl Centre proved to be exactly the right choice. The importance of a personal touch was a theme in our conversations about how to improve public services across Scotland and the way you both took the time to look after us was much appreciated." So again this was a huge source of encouragement.

The other day we thought hardly anyone would turn up to WA soup lunch as the rain was horizontal and the wind was blowing people off their feet. But come 12  o'clock the wind had died and the sun come out & over 30 people had turned up! However the following day  there were supposed to be folk in the flat, the chalet and in for a committee meeting from different parts of the country, but snow and high winds  saw all those cancelled.

Earlier in the month we had flooding in Pitlochry as well. The Dam was overflowing spectacularly, the co-op was flooded and many shops on the main street had flooding in their basements. It's at times like this you realise just how many burns (streams) there are in Pitlochry. Compared to other places we have got off lightly though.

Winter weather's not all bad news as the snow on our beautiful countryside here looks absolutely stunning and there have been some lovely photos taken, especially of local mountain Ben y Vrackie. The fishing season opened on schedule and the ski season has been going well. Winter Words is on at the theatre too.
Winter words on at the theatre
So if you can get here, do. There's plenty of availability in the flat and the chalet and also, since 2 weekends in February (12 - 14th & 19th - 21st) were cancelled in January we have late availability for group bookings in February. Get in there while you can. We've been amazed how many organisations book their conference speaker before they have a venue and then experience problems with last minute venue bookings, as like us many venues are booked up at least a year in advance. So do take the opportunity to book for next year too. Just give us a phone (01796 473044) or drop us an email (

We'll also be open for B&B at the Easter weekend and from the 4th - 15th April, so book now & get in at the head of the queue.