Christmas Message to all

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Although I have sent out dozens of Christmas cards there are many more people who I want to send Christmas greetings and Thanks to and this seems a nice way to do it!jingleBells

To our supporters (and that includes you)

Thank you.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support this year – what an amazing year it has been. With your help we have raised over £300,000 – incredible and wonderful and will help us with our Retreat building.  The support has been varied – from schoolchildren doing the £1 pic challenge (post coming soon on that), cyclists taking on the Pedal 4 Paul bike ride, lots of events (even 2 Blingo events this year!) to 31 of us climbing up Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.  I’ve spoken about the charity’s work and goals in schools, businesses, churches, cafes.

From being allowed to sit in(and being treated like family by Victor, Carina and their team) Centotre for hours on end working and sipping one or two coffees, to enjoying a curry lunch at Lothian Buses depot, to a fab bacon roll at Craigie’s Farm and great burgers at Hard Rock Cafe to our volunteers and cyclists being spoilt with fabulously fresh sandwiches made by Flavour – thanks to all our charity partners for their support of fundraising, donations both financial and prizes and awareness raising.

A special wee thanks here to all those who support us via social media – what a help you have been this year! Helping source prizes, sponsor events, even to having forms you can fill in online – all thanks to the power of social media friendships!

 To the families we have supported and still support

We know, from messages and feedback, that you do love our services and we hope that by providing them they have helped even a little bit with all you have been or are still going through – from organising the workshops, providing the snacks and parent packs, the ironing vouchers to sometimes being able to help with other requests and to saving up to build the Retreat.  We love the feedback you give us and and always consider it when planning future services.

To our volunteers

Quite simply, you are wonderful people.  Our Trustees and Patrons aren’t just figureheads – they roll up their sleeves and get mucked in.  We are so fortunate to have pro bono support from our Treasurer, Chartered Accountants, lawyers, property advisers, architect, landscape architect, IT support, and a lovely core team of volunteers who support us by being Champions – we have our Pedal 4 Paul Champions – Paul’s mum, Ruth and his godmother Aileen.  Our snacks Champion is Helen T – ever ready to shop and deliver to both wards. We’ve got Ann F who is an absolute treasure delivering and collecting and ironing and folding – no job is too tricky for our Ann. Wendy our newest Champion, taking on the Cookie Club role for 2014.  Our events wouldn’t be as pretty without Tia and Karen’s creativity and ideas – from table decorations to wrapping prizes – they have no equal!

Not forgetting our  wonderful Young Ambassadors – a group of young people  who volunteer their time, skills and ideas to raise funds and awareness.

Special mentions here for my husband and family -you are the best.   And for my admin crew – Susan, Marlyn, Vera and Shonagh – all going beyond the call of duty!

To our fellow small and local charities

How amazing are we all?  Competing with the big boys and girls of the charity world for donations and support isn’t easy but we do it.  We do it because we are so passionate about what we do, because actually we know the very people we set up to support. We do it because we can.  Because we all do make a difference.   So to The Teapot Trust,  Star for Harris,  Love Oliver,  Simba,  Calum’s Cabin,  CCLASP, TCCL, FACE,  St Columba’s Hospice (not so small but still local) I doff my cap at you and say let’s keep up the great work.


To families missing someone this Festive Season

There are a great many people thinking of you and that will include me and my family.  As we think of our own Andrew missing from our family gathering we will be thinking of you too and sending our thoughts your way.


To all of you

I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2014


Lynne McNicoll


 The future depends on what we do in the present.  Mahatma Ghandi

Kilimanjaro kindness

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Sometimes I love doing this so much I can hardly tell you.

Today is one of those days.

I had been out all morning at a bike confidence course (much needed and it was very good. I will review it over on our other charity Andrew Cyclist’s blog)

Came home and the doorbell went five mins after I get home.

I thought it was my mum’s birthday present being delivered.  But then I noticed the NEXT CHARITY  signs all over the box.

Upon opening it I discovered a box filled with lovely children’s clothes.  What a selection.  Pretty tops, sturdy jeans, gorgeous dresses, socks, tights and pj’s.  It is perfect.

You see, last month at our bbq one of the trekkers, Graham, asked me if it would be possible to take out some clothes and shoes for children.  I told him it was something I had wanted to do – though I had thought of notebooks and pencils.  Anyway I said, I’ll write a few letters and see if I can beg anything.

Half a dozen letters later – one negative reply, four no replies and one lovely positive reply.

I am so so chuffed.

So I am going away now to write to shoe companies to see if we can get  a few pairs of trainers donated too.  (I’ll do same for notebooks and pencils.)

Thank you, Next clothing, you are the best.

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Kilimanjaro Prep

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It is now only 60 days to our Kilimanjaro trek.  I remember talking about it 3 years ago and thinking it was ages away.  And now it’s not.

Almost all final payments are in, almost all trekkers have met their minimum fundraising targets, the financial side is almost complete.  It is a rough estimate at the moment but we stand at £63,500 raised so far.  I believe we can get to  £100,000 between the 31 trekkers. I have only just made up my own fundraising page – I think I knew that when it went live that meant the trek was close so I was kinda putting it off!   Anyway I have made my own fundraising target £10,000 and if you take a look at my page you will read why I want to do this.  If you are able to make any donation at all however large or small I’d be most grateful.  I can categorically state that I am not doing this trek for fun.  Climbing the world’s tallest freestanding mountain is going to be tough.

Yesterday I sold another kitchen gadget – one I don’t use now (and barely used even when I first got it) and that completed my savings for the trek – £2200 saved by selling stuff in the attic, my parents’ attic, and finally the kitchen cupboards!!  Felt good saving up for this trek and paying my own way. I still have to pay for the 2 day add on safari but am hoping for early pressies of money for christmas and birthday to help with that.

Now I can concentrate on upcoming events and my training.

After we saw a slide show of the route we are taking (Machame) and saw photos of the Baranco wall I nearly had a heart attack.  My fear of heights is fairly well documented – I did my first zipslide only after a lovely person gave me  a donation of £13,000!  So, the Baranco wall scared me.  I talked about it with Ian and decided that I was going to do the Aerial Assault course at Ratho Climbing Centre.  Cure me or kill me, I thought.

Today was the day.  7 other trekkers said they would come too.   I booked us onto the earliest slot possible.  (though bit of a moan coming on here – Ratho Climb Centre’s booking admin is rubbish.  Sorry but it is. I didn’t have the time to waste this week calling and re-calling – hope they improve the system and soon)

I got lost getting there and the loveliest thing happened.  I had just turned the car to retrace my route when I looked at the car in front of me and realised it was my parents.  Bless their cotton socks, they were coming out to watch me. (and were lost too).  A good Ratho samaritan soon sorted us out and we got to the Climbing centre in plenty of time.  Louise was already there shaking in her shoes.  We got the parents settled in the cafe with my lovely pal Janette who had come out for moral support too, and headed up to level five.  as we entered the door marked Aerial Assault course we really both thought we couldn’t do it. the spiral stairs looked down onto the main arena.  A long way down.  More than 100ft though it looked like 1000miles to me. I don’t mind admitting that I seriously seriously thought of calling it off.  I truly thought I couldn’t do it.  I felt sick, legs were shaking and heart was racing.  Surely this wasn’t good for me, I was thinking.  Cure me or Kill me?  I was definitely thinking it was going to kill me.  Lou said she would go first.  The others had arrived by then and two others looked the same way as me.  Terrified.

I got harnessed up and hooked up and the guy says step off and just as at the zipslide I say nope can’t do it. Bless him, he was so patient.  I thought – for goodness sake Lynne – give it a go.  So I stepped off and zipwired across the arena – boy do you swing from side to side (even Lou said she thought that would loosen off the knots  holding us on!!!).  I get to the platform where you start the actual assault course and decide to just get going.  My parents and Janette thought I went fast though all were worried as I got stuck at a corner (hey, I was worried) but you know what, I was determined to do it and for me the only way was to get round as fast as I could (I didn’t care how, or what I looked like, I wanted off the blooming thing and pronto.  The logs are rounded and wobbly, the rope net really difficult, the big hanging poles terrifying).  I have nothing good to say about this course except I finished it.  All by myself.

Sartorial elegance went for a burton as I took off the helmet and realised my hair was sticking to my head with sweat and my clothes were damp with sweat and my mouth so dry it was  horrible.  Most the others doing it were pretty cool to be honest ,though the other two trekkers who had been scared at the start with me had the same look.  Phew.

Enjoy the photos.  I’d like to say I recommend the Aerial Assault course to you but that depends on whether you are ok with heights or not.  I, for one, will not be doing it again but am very very proud of me and my team doing it today.   Another chapter for the future book!

Trekkers Ceilidh

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Last night at the Young Farmers Centre at Ingliston, a crowd of over 250 danced their way to the tunes of band, Callanish – great ceilidh tunes (and help with instructions for the ceilidh dances too).

Organised by Anne Baird and her sister Catherine Barr and another of the Kilimanjaro trekkers, Mary Porteous – this event got off to a roaring start.  My pal Janette and I were in charge of the raffle and goodness me the guests were generous chucking money in our buckets.  I think the raffle raised close to £1000.  the prizes were superb and you can see some of them below. Once again, lightweight that I am, I had to leave at 11pm – Blingo on Thursday  was so late that I really cannot do that too many nights in a row. Food was supplied by one of these firms who do hog roast rolls – there was a huge choice and chips!  There was always a queue for the rolls……

Well done also to Jenny Campbell and family for staffing the bar – great job, guys

I am so proud of my trekkers – doing so well with their fundraising.

Our Borders trekkers

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It was lovely to meet up with three of our Kilimanjaro trekkers last week.    I was invited to speak at Chirnside Primary School’s end of term church service.   Helen, Valda and Rona.  Helen’s mum works at the School and she told them about Helen joining our trek so they fundraised all year for It’s Good 2 Give raising a staggering £1100.

Good friend and co-trustee Susan drove me down to Eyemouth where we met up with Helen and Valda – not before being treated to a lovely bacon roll though!  Thank you Helen for that. 

It was lovely to see all the different ways we are fundraising – Helen showed us her button collection – she puts old buttons to good use I can tell you. She makes cards, earrings, brooches and very beautiful prints.  (So, if you have any old buttons please do save them up and let Helen have them – via us)

We followed Helen to Chirnside – first to the School to meet the Head Teacher and some of the staff and then we walked along to the very beautiful church.  Fortunately it was a sunny day (not many of them around these days) because once again we had brought with us our Ellie. Quite a feat in itself as Susan drives a Mini!  Ellie didn’t seem to mind but she did spend the trip upside down.

Near the end of a lovely service Helen and I were invited to the front.  I spoke about what the charity does and how amazing Helen is for joining our trek and thanked them for their very generous donation.

We had been invited to stay for lunch with Helen and indeed by another trekker, Elaine who lives in Duns.  Sadly though I was on a tight deadline as had to be back in Edinburgh by 1pm for meetings.

The scenery is staggering around the borders – Eyemouth looked so beautiful.  I intend to go back.  (In fact I will be heading to Berwick on Tweed in October as Valda plans a marathon Zumba class in aid of It’s Good 2 Give)

Over and over again I get to say this to you though.  I love meeting the incredibly generous and thoughtful people who help us in our quest to raise £1m.

So lucky.


A little bit of everything

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Sometimes I try to hard to make this blog only have useful or interesting bits of information about It’s Good 2 Give and forget that maybe just maybe you’d also like to know some of the little things I get up to!

Well if you do, good and if you don’t stop reading now and go back to your cuppa/work/walking the dog.

I have found this year really tough so far.  Family sickness, stress, grief and organising quite the biggest event we have ever considered has taken its toll.

Thank goodness for good friends who have been there to listen, to support, to help and to reassure. Over and over again I am reminded how much a small kindness can mean and it reinforces what we do as a charity too.

And even although there are small parts of days that seem almost unbearable most days are filled with hope.

Hope for safer cycling through our new charity to be – Andrew Cyclist Charitable Trust

and hope for It’s Good 2 Give  – that we can continue with our programme of workshops, healthy snacks scheme, parents and patient packs, and responding to requests.

  • We are working alongside the Sick Kids Foundation in kitting out a room in ward 2 for study and reception – absolutely delighted to work in partnership with another tremendous charity on this project.
  • Including Ninewells Hospital in our parent and patient pack project.
  • working hard on our physical challenges – the Dragon Boats Race in June, Pedal for Paul in September and Kilimanjaro trek the following September.
  • building on our partnerships with businesses.
  • making our series of fundraising events this year the best ever.

For me personally, I want to continue getting fitter – I have done pretty well since November of last year when I realised that I wasn’t doing my health any favours by being quite so overweight or unfit.  Healthy eating and, so far, moderate exercise have done wonders.  I feel fitter and more energetic than I have done in years. I am walking for an hour each day and aim to increase that over the summer months.  I am participating in the Dragon Boats Race (reluctantly and with an arm up my back though not while rowing you understand) and Pedal for Paul bike ride this year – all good training for Kilimanjaro next year.   My saving up for Kili is doing well – through car boot/gumtree/ebay sales I have saved £1500 of the £2500 personal cost and then I can start on the £1000 I need to raise for the charity. I will be able to do that through organising an event though!   I am excited by the thought of Kili as the team we have so far is just amazing.  Delighted to be doing this incredible adventure for our charity with this group.

Since the Ball Ian and I have had a holiday and so the past week has been catch up week – lots of meetings with wonderful supporters and potential fundraisers and of course juggling that with ironing and shopping and two punctures!

Today is one of those lovely days – a mix of personal and charity – getting a much needed haircut from my good friend Jacqui who refuses to take any money from me – keeping my hair tidy is one of her ways of supporting my fundraising and I very much appreciate it.  Then it’s off for lunch with a new supporter Felicity Keating who raised £2000 at an event in her house earlier this month (go, Felicity!).  She is planning more fundraising for us in June too which is fantastic.  And then I am meeting one of the nurses from Ward 2 – Fiona Bruce – she is one of our trekkers for kili.

I leave you with one of my little quotes – you know how I like these quotes!

Each morning you wake up and have a choice:  Make it a good day or make it a bad day. Events try to dictate our circumstances. In the end the decision is ours.




Ailsa the literary elephant

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Introducing you to our Ailsa

Isn’t she gorgeous?  fluttery eyelashes, mischievous face – Ailsa has joined our elephant family recently.  She is not long back from Wigtown where she spent a lovely week sitting in the author’s retreat.  There was obviously a real wood fire nearby as she smells all autumnal and smokey.  We are very grateful to Anne and her team at Wigtown Book Festival for looking after her so well.  They also managed to persuade a fair few authors to sign her.   There is Fergal Keane, Janice Galloway – seen here signing her, Debi Gliori and Sarah Macintyre didnt just sign her – they did a wee illustration too!

yesterday she spent the night at Alexander McCall Smith’s house – I hope she behaved.  Certainly I was told that Augustus, Mr McCall Smith’s cat, was intrigued by the sight of this papier mache elephant in his porch!

As you can see we have this wonderful man’s signature promiment on Ailsa.

Project Ailsa is well underway – we want to get as many locally based authors as possible now to sign her between now and March 2012.    Ailsa is going to be auctioned at our inaugural Ball in March along with sets of signed books by some of the authors who have signed her.

If you can help – perhaps you know an author or ARE an author get in touch – we’d love to see Ian Rankin’s signature there, perhaps JK Rowling’s too!

Help us if you can.

Kilimanjaro 2013

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quick update on Kilimanjaro plans – a dozen people have been in touch asking for more information – most are coming to our information meeting on 1 October and those that can’t make it will get an info pack emailed to them.  It’s all very exciting.  Meanwhile my savings account balance is rising – now at £600.  Just from sales of things like cd’s I have played once or jam jars I will never fill, and bags of clothes I will never wear.

If you would like more information about our trip do call me!  07901 555 352

and I will walk 5000 miles……

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Sorry for blog silence for past few days.  As well as working hard with my young team on the fashion show I started to make an ops manual.  Turns out that’s harder than you think!

Even more importantly I have been working on the Kilimanjaro trek – Lee did a guest blog about it a few months back but guys this is it.

The start.

Today sees me start training in earnest.  Given how much weight I have to lose and how unfit I am starting in earnest doesn’t mean the same as it might have done five years ago.  Today I put on a pedometer – see below _ and intend to do just that -= small steps and big changes!

Here, for posterity, is the very first step I took on 1 August 2011My aim now is to walk 5000 miles (can you hear a Proclaimers song being amended??  and I will walk 5000 miles, but I won’t walk 5000 more….da de da da da de da da) I think I might have had too much caffeine this morning!

As I was saying, my aim is to ‘walk’ to Kilimanjaro between now and mid september 2013 – as the crow flies its 5000 miles so that’s what I have plumped for.   I have bought my bus pass and for the next few months as I start off I will be walking and bussing my way about town.  My iPod is loaded up with audio books (you can indeed get fundraising books on audio so I have a few of those so can still walk and learn) and some inspiring music including,of course, said Proclaimers.   and Paulo’s Pencil full of Lead.  and Abba.   It’s a mixed bag, I can tell you.

One of our new supporters, Lesley Dobson, came up with the idea of me taking a photo of me every day with a backdrop of a cartoon mountain.   Oh I hope most sincerely that we don’t need the wide angle lens for long…….  One of our young school Ambassadors, Hannah McPherson, who has been helping me in the school holidays, is going to paint it today – I found an old roll of wallpaper in the attic yesterday so she can do it on that!   Photo tomorrow for you.

As this is a self funding trek – that means each person coming on it has to pay their own way in full – ballpark figure is £2500 (and then raise at least £1000 for It’s Good 2 Give in addition) I started a clear out yesterday – who knew Ebay was quite easy to use!  I now have a number of items on ebay now and lots more have been photographed ready to go this week.  There is a huge load of ‘stuff’ ready for a car boot sale though in reality I don’t expect to raise that much for trek from this clear out.  I’ll make more if LSH lets me keep the money I would have spent on parking in town!  We have told the family and those friends we buy Christmas gifts for that this we are donating to G2G – that amount will go towards my £1000 fundraising but have also asked for money for my birthday – there are two birthdays between now and the trek so that’s a few more bob into my personal kitty.

Of course, as well as sorting me out, I have to recruit other trekkers!   Good friend and supporter, Janette McPherson, has signed up so that’s my tent partner sorted.  I have asked a few more people and will organise a wee event in September for interested parties to get more information.

If you would like to know more, either because you’d like to come on the trek or because you’d like to sponsor us in any way (more on sponsorship opportunities tomorrow) please do get in touch.

Ellie the very special elephant

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As we start the planning for our Kilimanjaro trek – currently planned for September 2013 to allow for fundraising and training – I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to one of our marketing initiatives.

After being at one of our workshops at Kiss the Fish – a simply fantastic craft shop and venue in Stockbridge – I thought it would be fun to have an elephant that the children could decorate for us and we’d take to events.   To encourage donations as well as to recruit trekkers!

That was an ok idea but then one of the mums, Lynsey Mackenzie , came up with the absolutely brilliant idea to decorate the elephant with photos of the families in Ward 2 – past and present and also photos of young people who have inspired me in my fundraising.

Our first ‘Decorate the elephant’  session was last sunday and four young people came with their mums – Sammi, Natalia, Milly and Victoria had a ball making the elephant all pink and pretty – Sammi came up with the name and everyone agreed so we’d like to introduce you to Ellie……..

she is still a work in progress as many families want to add their photo to her.  We hope though to have her finished by the end of June, get her varnished up and take her to all our events.

oh and thanks to Mark (Sammi’s dad) for the scrummy cake he made us to munch on as we decorated!

and here is Ellie after our first session – if you’d like to add your photo to our special elephant then do get in touch

We also have Elmer the elephant to decorate – Elmer is going to be a bit of a fundraiser elephant too – we are inviting businesses and schools to donate to our trek fundraising and we will add their logo to Elmer!

(for the record, our trek fundraising will go entirely to our projects – all trekkers have to pay their own way for our Kilimanjaro trek – so that all money they raise will be for It’s Good 2 Give!)