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Deputy First Minister & local MSP John Swinney was the key speaker at our Open Day to celebrate the completion of the Atholl Centre’s refurbished accessible facilities.
Autumn is making its presence felt now and our focus for the Centre changes too, with community groups starting up again for the winter.
Fantastic news! We heard in March that we have been awarded £ 117,343 from the Scottish Government's Enterprise Ready Fund, completing the money we need to start not just the Chalet renovation, but the ground floor disabled en-suites as well. And it includes 9 months funding for a marketing development officer. Watch this space.
It’s misty autumn, heading for winter as the ground is covered in the first big frost of the season. We’ve seen fieldfares flying about over from Scandanavia and redwings too. Pitlochry’s autumn festival is over and the Theatre is advertising its Christmas play “Winter wonderland.” Well, that’s a good reason to come for a visit. The flat is still available for most of November, December & January and there is still some room for group bookings. Groups can be family groups too - in fact we’ve 2 special family get-togethers at the end of December – a golden wedding and a 90th birthday. What could you do?
"Dear Lord , please could you make it a bit less wintery, and a bit more springy? We'd really appreciate it. Amen." That was back in March when we felt as if spring would never come, it had been cold and miserable for so long. Now it’s May and the Black Spout Woods are carpeted in the soft white of wood anemones punctured by the occasional wild violet. The trees are at last coming into leaf and there have even been some hot days when we broke into our summer outfits.
The rowans are heavy with crimson berries and the red, gold, russet and bronze bloom of autumn is spreading across trees and bracken alike. Yesterday on a drive we admired a trio of partridge pick its way unconcernedly across a low stone dyke, their variegated plumage reflecting the play of sunlight on bark then narrowly missed a pair of pheasants who whirred off at the last minute in confusion.
It's been unseasonably warm this year & while much of England has been buried in snow we have had an early spring. While we continue to welcome residential groups both at weekends and midweek, our public rooms are also well used by local community groups. Our new double glazing is set to save over 6 tonnes of CO2 per year. A big thank you to the Climate Challenge Fund who have funded this project.
We are now fully into our autumn programme with every weekend booked until the beginning of November and a couple of midweek residential bookings too. It's encouraging to see the range of groups coming here expanding and a steadily filling diary of bookings for next year.
Well, it’s been a while since the last letter, but not since the last news. We hope you’ve been following our blog on the website to keep up with what’s happening and now we’re on facebook as well.
Well, the trees are on the turn and we've had our first autumnal storms of the year. Our thanks to Community Energy Scotland, Rural Tayside LEADER project 2007 - 2013, the Gannochy Trust and Pitlochry Baptist Church for their help in funding our new wood pellet boiler and solar panels.
Spring has arrived again. The most immediate change you will notice is that our newsletter is going out primarily by email.
40 years on - 1969 to 2009 and still going strong
Spring is now well established. The trees are looking beautifuly.
A big thank you to all who have helped the Atholl Centre
Atholl Centre Autumn 2008
We have now been reopened for a year and a summer and it is good to know that many groups and individuals want and value what we have to offer. Here are a few compliments we’d like to share:
“The best place we’ve ever stayed” – Niddrie church
“Beautiful place, good time, good food.” – Gilbert
“Brill as usual.” – Jan & Rab
“Staff very helpful & Centre very clean & comfortable. Well done!” – Marion
We feel it’s time to build on that and to reach out to all those people who haven’t heard about the Centre yet, so we decided the first thing we needed to do was to define who we are and what we want to do. Here’s what we came up with:
To invest in our world by inspiring people from all walks of life to be refreshed and changed through encouraging the realisation of their potential and by promoting mutual understanding.
We are an inclusive charity which provides fully accessible residential and conference facilities in which groups and individuals can experience practical Christian love and be better prepared for life through training, bridge-building and refreshment.*
We’ve now got a volunteer working part-time exclusively on marketing and fundraising, which we hope will open many more doors for us.
This spring and summer we have had many different groups coming to the Centre to stay as well as day groups using the public rooms. At weekends we’ve had amongst others the See Hear deaf conference, children with heart disorders, several church weekends, a prayer conference and a counselling conference. During the week we’ve welcomed Baptist ministers for training, Church of Scotland lunch clubs for holidays and Free Church girls for a camp. As day groups amongst others we’ve hosted the Pitlochry Gallery (arts & crafts) twice, the Etape Caledonia cycling event, 2 mental health support groups and a series of chronic illness management sessions by the MS society.
You might be asking yourself, “What difference does the Centre make to those groups? – What does it have to offer?”
Take church groups and Christian organisations for example:
We help them to do a good job by providing suitable facilities for them to get together and explore their faith and action. By having a range of rooms we can cater for those who prefer a private bedroom, for youth wanting dorms and for families with small children. We have a range of training aids and training areas, which means that a variety of methods can be used to get the message across. Being in the middle of tourist country there can be a good mix of training and leisure to make the conference work well. Having experienced training these groups and individuals are empowered to grow and to make a positive difference in the world around them.
Here are some comments they made:
“The peace of my room nourished me and your food was wonderful.”
“God’s grace came and stayed and blessed us all.”
What impact do we have on mobility impaired groups – the elderly and the disabled?
Often these groups struggle to find somewhere suitable to go. At most venues the disabled facilities are limited to one room & guests sometimes have to use the back entrance or be manhandled, which isn’t very dignified. In contrast, at the Centre we are fully ramped with a lift to the first floor. We have several wheelchair friendly bedrooms next to disabled toilets and showers. We cater for special diets on request, without making a fuss. These guests appreciate the care, respect and dignity which we offer them and this has a profound impact on their sense of well-being and self-respect, giving them renewed strength to return to their daily lives.
We’ve been rewarded with these comments:
“Nothing was a problem”
“I’ve been treated like a queen”
How do we make a difference for young people?
By providing a caring and respectful atmosphere and comfortable facilities we promote well-being in groups who sometimes feel under-valued.
We adjust our menus and facilities to suit their needs. We have indoor games (including snooker, darts and table tennis) and videos/DVDs for entertainment, and Pitlochry & district has a wide range of exciting outdoor activities from hillwalking and castles to white water rafting & canyoning, which can be organised beforehand on request. Because we offer good care in pleasant facilities these young people go away with an improved feel-good factor and prepared to copy the behaviour which has been modelled to them. So we feel we are investing in society in this way and helping people to gain self respect and self-confidence.
“Fab! Woohoo!” – Inverness
“Beds are comfy, yo!” – Lisa , Edinburgh
How do we help day groups?
By enabling day groups to use our public rooms, we are enabling them to function in a pleasant atmosphere for a reasonable price. Our larger rooms tend to be much more attractive and warmer than your average village hall, which would be their alternative, and our smaller rooms make comfortable and intimate settings for small groups, facilitating discussion. The kind of groups we encourage promote creativity, friendship and self-help and are therefore making a positive impact on individuals and on our community.
“Thanks, Iain. We couldn’t have done it without you.” – Etape Caledonia team
And what about casual guests – those we welcome for B&B ?
To fill the gaps where there have been no group bookings we have also opened for B& B welcoming many guests from overseas. Even here we have the chance to show care and respect in Christ’s name.
Here’s some of what they said:
“Merci pour votre acceuil simple et chaleureux.” – France
“Bonito pueblo. Excellent breakfast.” – Spain
“Excellent stay. Friendliest people ever!” – South Africa
“Thank you for the comfortable stay in a new country.” – Bavaria
And so that we can give a reason for our faith if people ask, our bookstall has literature in various languages and we hope soon to have a range of Bibles in different languages for guests to pick up and browse. If you have a modern foreign language Bible at home that you no longer use perhaps it could be of use here.
To keep the Centre going strong and make necessary improvements to its facilities we are asking for your help. Please consider prayerfully how best to help us carry on the work we have started and thank you for your prayers so far which have supported us as we have started building for the future again.