Because it is the day we got our planning consent for the Ripple Retreat!
At 1.45pm today to be exact – a unanimous decision by the planning committee of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.
Let me tell you the story – it has been bubbling away inside me for nearly a year and we have been working very very hard to make it a reality.
In 2010 when Ian and I set up It’s Good 2 Give we knew we wanted to provide practical support – the snacks, parent packs, workshops, ironing vouchers, requests but our dream was to create a Retreat for the families – somewhere that was within reasonable distance of the Edinburgh hospitals so that those still in treatment could get back there within an hour if they needed to.
Ian worked away behind the scenes meeting possible land donors, sellers and property people. We investigated a couple of possibilities and kept our ears open.
Then, a year or so ago, I met Kirsten Speirs, MD of KD Media – she told me the great news that we were going to become the benefitting charity from the Scottish Property Awards and the Scottish Home Awards for the next three years. The Scottish Home awards are in June and this was middle of May. She suggested I print a flyer saying we were looking for land and she would give all the guests at the event one of these flyers.
At the same time I thought I would put this request out to our database.
Within a day or two I received a phone call – man says his name and he wants to speak to me about land he might donate. I wasn’t sure whether to believe him or not – it seemed almost too good to be true. I said that Ian would call him back. Before you knew it we were heading up to Callander to meet David Ferguson.
And then before you could say jiminycricket he was offering us some of his beautiful land. (oh and there is a very beautiful twist to this tale as the reason David was told about us was because of Zoe King, one of the first teenagers I met fighting cancer, way back in 2006)
I am saving the photos to the end because you wouldn’t keep reading my story!
To condense the last year into a few short sentences seems hard for me – a real blether – but I have to.
We were introduced to Dan MacDonald, MD of MacDonald Estates who became our property adviser and he introduced us to Tony Kettle – award winning international architect (designed the Falkirk Wheel) and a lovely person.
The planners at the Trossachs National Park Authority acknowledged our charitable status and the purpose of the retreat and said that if we had any chance at all of getting consent the building would have to be exceptional.
Tony took that to heart and off he went.
The Ripple Retreat was designed – its inspiration is the ripples on the loch – hence its working title though we are now all agreed we love the name Ripple Retreat.
The roof will be zinc and much of the rest glass and oak. The pier will let families sit out and enjoy the view up and down Loch Vennacher.
Callander itself is beautiful – the safari park is within 30mins drive as are many other attractions but we hope that the peace afforded families in the Retreat will mean that most of their stay will be spent there.
It will have three bedrooms, a caretaker’s /companions room, kitchen, playroom, dining room and lounge.
David and his wife Jean (and their family) have worked hard with us to achieve today’s outcome. This is a wonderful family and we owe them a great deal in donating a huge chunk of their land to our charity. David’s son in law is also undertaking our Arctic trek next March!
Tony and his wonderful architect, Chris Barr are a joy to work with and incredibly generous too – getting us to this stage has cost us only the National Park fee for the planning application. These are very busy architects and we know that and appreciate almost beyond words what they have done for us. Today Tony gave me the little model of the Retreat and it now sits proudly on my desk.
When we were told the building would have to be exceptional not in my wildest dreams did I think it would be this exceptional.
I always said we wanted to create something we could be proud of, something Scotland could be proud of and I believe we are about to do just that.
What’s the next stage?
Well, it is getting Building Standards approval – that will take several weeks. Which gives me time to beg some more money and introduce our Pledge Book. Our Pledge Book will be a bit like a wedding list and you will be able to ‘buy’ items for the Retreat.
More on that later – meantime let me introduce you to
The It’s good 2 give Ripple Retreat.