loch lomond and trossachs national park

Ripple Retreat Pier

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We enjoyed a lovely day at the Retreat yesterday as we officially opened the Pier.

Last year Cathal Morgan (architect in Tony Kettle’s practice and our day to day architect for the Retreat) designed a pier that complemented the Retreat perfectly.  We got planning consent and then we were introduced to the lovely folks at the Wooden Spoon Charity and after consideration they agreed to fund the Pier.  What we didn’t know at the time was that our estimate was way off base!

However, we met up with the folks from George Leslie, a contractor more used to building huge piers.  They said that they would love to build our pier and it was to be the smallest they had built and that the funding we had in place from the Wooden Spoon charity would be fine. (I think they have called it a cost-minus project though also acknowledge how rewarding it was to support us).

It was a massive construction job – we had a huge crane (if you know the site, you can imagine how tricky it was to get the crane to the site) and some days the weather was kinder than others but the guys kept going.

The curved end of the pier – the shelter – was funded by a private donation and that is made of glulam beams- made in Austria because no one in the UK was able to bend the beams to the curve required.

It really is a beautiful pier and allows families the chance to sit and look down the loch enjoying the stunning views.  If they are experienced sailors and want to hire a sail boat or canoe the nearby Loch Venachar sailing club is happy to help.  And if they have no experience, the sail club is happy to offer tuition or just take the family out on the water.

Yesterday, President of the Wooden Spoon in Scotland, the rugby legend that is Gavin Hastings, officially opened the pier.  Several trustees from the Wooden Spoon came along too as did CEO of George Leslie, John McNaught and  Ross Ritchie, also from George Leslie and Tony Kettle, architect of Ripple Retreat.

We were extra lucky in that as her next race is in Newcastle,  one of our Patrons, Lynsey Sharp, was able to attend.  She had visited the Retreat when it was a muddy building site and so was blown away by its beauty now that it is finished.

The pier represents a fabulous collaboration between two charities ( us and the wonderful Wooden Spoon charity), two businesses  (George Leslie, the pier contractors and indeed several other businesses who supported them.  Glulam Solutions for the curved shelter), our incredibly talented architect team at Kettle Collective and a private donor for funding the curved shelter – we are grateful to them all for providing this stunning addition to our Ripple Retreat.  It will enhance the experience of every family who stays at Ripple Retreat.

Thanks to one of our Lead Ambassadors, Elaine Whellans for some cracking photos from the day.

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.



Chasing Silver

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My breath is quite taken away by the beauty of this little beaker!

We are so fortunate to be the chosen charity to benefit from the sale at auction of the silver beaker.    Please, if you know anyone at all who would like to bid for it – share this post!

On Saturday 28 November 2015 from 10am to 4pm, you can follow its story – start at The Scottish Gallery in Dundas Street, Edinburgh and meet the designer himself – Grant McCaig – he will explain the design which includes an ash leaf.   Celtic mythology surrounding the protective qualities of the ash tree inspired the design which is just incredible as ash trees grow in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park and of course our beautiful Ripple Retreat is being built in the National Park.  Thereafter you could go up to the silver workshop at Hamilton & Inches, 87 George Street, Edinburgh and see the silver craftsmen at work on the beaker that will be donated to the Museum.   After that pop along to Bonhams to see ‘our’ beaker and the model of the Ripple Retreat.  At each venue Trustees or Patrons of It’s Good 2 Give will be present to answer any questions you may have about our charity.

I had seen the beaker at an early stage of its creation and to see it now in its finished state is quite something.  It is truly stunning.

And to think that a second beaker will be donated to the National Museums of Scotland to become part of its permanent silver collection!

Well, you could own ‘our’ beaker – the auction will take place at 0950hrs on Wednesday 2 December at Bonhams, 22 Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 1JX  (tel 0131 225 2266) – Telephone bids welcome – there may well be other ways to bid – please do check with Bonhams!

We are incredibly proud and grateful to Grant McCaig, The Scottish Gallery, Hamilton & Inches and Bonhams for choosing us to benefit and hope you will  now help us by sharing this with anyone you think might like to bid for the Ash Beaker.

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 uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/RippleRetreat.



Ripple Retreat Requests for the week!

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We are just a little charity and most admin done by me – it seemed a good idea to do a Ripple Retreat Request every day but it takes a fair chunk of time to write and link blog posts and add photos.

Co-trustee Susan gave me good idea of doing one blog post each week with a list of the Requests thus allowing you to choose which, if any, of the items you would like to donate.

This, then is the list for the week ahead!

Perhaps you have a business and would like to see our full wish list – feel free to get in touch if you want to do that.

Meantime if you would like to make a donation for any item on this week’s list – click here to be taken to our online giving page.  Remember to say which item you are donating for and we will add your name in our Donor Recognition Book.



Ripple Retreat item Donation requested
Pillows – we are going to need a lot of pillows! £25.00 for a pair
Coffee maker – Nespresso or similar £110.00
Casserole dishes various sizes £12 to £30
John Lewis measuring jugs £2 to £5
measuring scales £20.00
corkscrew £15.00
oven gloves Le Creuset £20.00
cookbooks – Delia £20.00
hedgehog house RSPB £30.00
ladybird box RSPB £20.00
Bat Boxes RSPB £25.00

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