kettle collective

12days to go till we open Ripple Retreat

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Ian and I were up at the site today to water the newly planted plants and Millie’s trees – we have had a dry spell for a few days and we can’t have them drying out.


There was no one else there today of course so it was very peaceful. Ian was busy sorting the tree ties and I decided to sit at the pier and look down the loch and had some moments to think.

And this is what I was thinking…..

Three and a bit years ago when we first met David and Jean we had not expected them to give us such a beautiful piece of their land. We had not expected it to be so peaceful, stunning and have views like it has. We had not expected to be given a piece of land in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.

Our next concern was – would the planners let us build here? We could but ask. They (the planners at the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park) said if we were to have any chance of building here we were going to have to produce a design that was ‘exceptional’ and fitted in to its surroundings.

A tall ask.

Incredibly around the same time we were introduced to Tony Kettle. Tony had designed the Falkirk Wheel among many other buildings of note. He was interested in helping. Give me a few weeks he said and we did. Not in a million years did I think we would like the very first (and only) design he would show us.

But he’s good. He is really really good.

The design was both exceptional and fitted in to its surroundings.

We loved it. Fortunately so did the planners!

And so today, the last day of April 2017, I sat there and pinched myself – listen, I am not going to kid you and say the past three years has been easy – this project threw up all sorts of obstacles and hurdles – the design team have all worked together to work through them though and let’s not forget that for almost a year I was getting chemo and radiotherapy – not easy for either me or Ian but working on this project helped us both a lot.

In particular this year has been tough – unavoidable delays here and there are frustrating to say the least and differing views on style has meant compromises too by all parties.

Plus it is hard working on this to the extent we have this year, plus continuing to fundraise for it, organise events, and run the charity!

All that by way of saying, I think, that I had been getting blasé about the Retreat, taking it for granted and yet today as I sat at peace, loch side, it hit me.

Tony Kettle is an absolute marvel, David and Jean are awesome and our contractors quite remarkable – everyone else involved is pretty cool too. Our Patrons, Trustees, Ambassadors, Young Ambassadors and volunteers are some of the finest people on the planet.

And our Ripple Retreat is truly truly stunning. Breathtaking. It took my breath away today, brought tears to my eyes as I realised we are less than two weeks away from opening it. (well those tears might have been tears of terror at the thought of just 2 weeks to go and quite a lot to do in that time.) (kidding – they were tears of wonder, of joy, of immense gratitude).

What an amazing collective achievement.

Now, I must go, there are a fair few tasks to do before Lorraine Kelly cuts that ribbon!!


It’s Good 2 Give Ripple Retreat

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Two lovely visuals to share with you.

First up is our architect’s impression of the Retreat and its pier.

retreat and pier





Looks amazing – a great spot to sit and enjoy the view or do a spot of fishing perhaps!

Also on Sunday our architect and friend, Tony Kettle, visited our Retreat site to see progress and try out his new drone.  The result is stunning – an aerial view of the whole site and Tony’s gorgeous design – my favourite bit?  The roof.  It truly blows me away – I have seen the guys working on it and am so impressed at their skills and now totally understand why it has taken time to install.  I bet that isn’t the right word for putting on the roof but you know what I mean!

If you click here, you can see it on our Youtube channel.



Ripple Retreat site visit 27 October

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Ian and I were at the Retreat site today for a design/construction team meeting.  The weather was pretty horrible on the drive up but by time we arrived in Callander the rain had stopped.  Driving along the 3 miles of single track road to the Retreat from Callander was incredible. It was as if the road was paved with copper – and the verges too.  The leaves were shimmering after the rain and honestly it was possibly the most beautiful drive to the site I have ever had.

We were a few mibnutes late thanks to the traffic and the rain and so I wasn’t able to stop to take a photo for you.

Our meeting lasted several hours and we got a lot done – there are actions that need attention in next few days so will keep us all busy.

I took a couple of short videos for you to see the interior today and it was exciting to see the base floor in the ‘caretakers’ room – ready to have the underfloor heating pipes installed soon.

First film is a general look round

Second film is of the base floor ready for underfloor heating pipes!

It was really good to know too that all 15000 daffodil bulbs had been planted – that will be a sight to see in the spring – it will be a carpet of gold. What a fantastic welcome for families.

We’ll be back up next week and looking forward to seeing each weeks’ progress.

Meantime the donations arrive every day from supporters from our Amazon gift list and our John Lewis gift list.


The Ripple Retreat Pier

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I thought you’d like to see the Pier we will be building. Families staying at the Retreat will be able to sit in the sheltered part of the pier and enjoy the view, or fish from the end, or take the kayaks out.

It’s a really beautiful design and very much part of the Ripple Retreat Estate!

I shall tell you more about how it will be financed and named soon.

Meantime enjoy the design.

Ripple Pier - WIP - 2015_05_26 (1)

Another wonderful Patron

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On the very day that the builders started to build our Ripple Retreat, architect Tony Kettle accepted our invitation to become a Patron of It’s Good 2 Give.

Tony’s design is stunning and the support he and his team show us is very much appreciated by us all.  They work tirelessly to ensure the Retreat is going to be perfect.

He was already a big part of Team It’s Good 2 Give but it is so nice for us to have him as a Patron.

Cathal, Lynne and Tony in Kettle Co offices

Cathal, Lynne and Tony in Kettle Co offices

Ripple Retreat kitchen news

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We are a wee bit overwhelmed with the generosity of businesses and individuals – it has truly stunned us and is so amazing.  All of us at It’s Good 2 Give are so grateful for  this support.

One of the earliest fabulous donations was of the kitchen.  In addition to it being a fabulous donation – it is from one of the best kitchen design houses in Scotland (maybe, even the UK).

Kitchens International.

We met the designers in March but I was pretty sick then and so it’s only more recently I have been paying full attention to the design and it is a WOW design.

And a WOW design that I can share with you now.  I love it all. Every single bit of it but especially the worktop that can be raised or lowered to suit all heights of users whether they are toddlers baking with mum, or a child or parent in a wheelchair.

There are accessible powerpoints for using kitchen gadgets but also handy for  charging phones or using tablets or laptops at the breakfast bar area.

I hope you like it as much as we do and I am so looking forward to seeing it when it is fitted!    (I know it is a work in progress so might change slightly)

Our immense thanks to the Kitchens International team – what a truly wonderful donation to our Ripple Retreat.

Since this offer, we have had many offers from businesses and I will be telling you all about them over the coming months!







And we’re off! Work starts on Ripple Retreat

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It’s a very exciting week for us!

The digger and dumper truck have arrived, the portacabins will come soon – the steel is ordered – our Ripple Retreat construction has commenced!

Enjoy some photos and read the press release below.

Thank you to each and every one of you who have helped get us to this stage.  Watch this space to see the progress.



The construction of a £1 million holiday home gifted to families who have children with cancer has started following the fundraising success of a small Edinburgh charity.

It’s Good 2 Give, the charity run by volunteer fundraiser Lynne McNicoll OBE, has turned the turf on a plot of land on the banks of Loch Venacher as work got underway to create The Ripple Retreat.

McNicoll was joined by Tabitha Lawson, age 10, a former cancer patient who received support from the charity at the age of 6 and is now an active ambassador for It’s Good 2 Give.

The new build project will take seven months and will create a three bedroomed 260m2 modern home which has been designed to exceptional standards by award winning architect, Tony Kettle, the designer of the Falkirk Wheel.

40 families are expected to use the retreat every year for short breaks of up to 7 nights each and the building will be ready for its first visitors in March 2016.

Lynne McNicoll, chair and founder of It’s Good 2 Give, commented,

“It’s an incredibly happy day today to see the Ripple Retreat underway. This is my dream ambition for our charity and a tremendous victory. I can’t thank everyone enough for donating to our campaign.”

The campaign to raise £1m hit difficulties earlier this year when Lynne was herself diagnosed with breast cancer. However the ordeal of chemotherapy has made her even more determined to get the project started. She commented:

“My own cancer experience has made me more determined to help families coping with a seriously ill child. It is a sad reality that 160,000 children who are diagnosed with cancer each year in the UK.  Families are quickly thrown into despair dealing with the news and then can completely breakdown when children, some as young as 2, have to endure chemotherapy.”

“These courageous children and their families need help and our gift to them will be a short break at our Ripple Retreat. We are immensely proud to see the start of an incredible legacy for our charity.”

The building of Ripple Retreat takes the charity’s ambition to a new level.  The property has been designed on a pro bono basis and the project has received donations and support from a number of companies including John Dennis Construction, Kitchens International, James Morrow, Walker Group and Spifox.

The designer house will be modern and sleek with all the comforts of home including toys, books, games and activities.  The house will also benefit from fishing rights on the loch, is next to a national cycle path and is ten minutes from Callander.

The building work starts two months after Lynne was named OBE in the Birthday Honours and in December she travels to Buckingham Palace to receive her honour from HRH Her Majesty The Queen.

To donate to the Ripple Retreat, please visit



Who is helping with the Ripple Retreat?

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Ripple Retreat support

I thought I would take this chance to tell you about some of our Ripple Retreat supporters – (that is, in addition to you, of course!)

There wouldn’t be a Ripple Retreat without three special people

David and Jean Ferguson who gifted us 1.7acres of land on the shores of Loch Venachar and

Tony Kettle – our wonderful architect of Kettle Collective who more than fulfilled the brief from the planners to design an ‘exceptional’ Retreat.

In the past few months much has been going on behind the scenes.  The fundraising is very much our public face but ‘backstage’ Ian has been working with advisers and supporters to secure items for the Retreat at best price or free.

Let me share with you now just some of those items.

And if by any chance, you can help, or your employer, or you know someone who can help, then please do get in touch!

Kitchens International are very generously donating the kitchen and utility room

Ware With All – equally generous – donating all five bathrooms!

Flavour catering for feeding the design team!

HASL – Suppliers of heating and ventilation products

James Morrow Home Entertainment Systems is helping with audio visual plans and items

Collinsons tiles, Edinburgh supplying the (very stunning) tiles

Rankin Fraser – donated initial design of  the garden to secure the planning consent

Semple Begg donating a detailed plan and planting regime for the site

Edinburgh Flooring Carpet Warehouse donating the flooring

Barratt Homes are going to build us something family friendly in the grounds (still to be agreed)

Walker Homes have taken us on as Charity of the Year for the next three years and will be donating £100 per house sold in Scotland

All these (and more in the pipeline) will have their donation recognised at the Retreat on our stunning Donor Recognition window.

possible donor recognition window

possible donor recognition window

It’s Good 2 Give will always remember 26 May 2014

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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.


the Ripple Retreat