When Lynne McNicoll set up a charity four years ago, she wanted to support young cancer patients in the east of Scotland and their families.
She had been a volunteer and fundraiser with the Teenage Cancer Trust and watched the difficulties that long hospital stays could have on all family members.
Her dream was to build a special retreat; an idea which is now one step closer to become a reality as planning permission has now been granted for the Ripple Retreat on the southern bank of Loch Venachar.
A whirlwind year
The building blocks for this project first began last year when Lynne put flyers inside programmes at a few awards ceremonies, and sent it around her mailing list members of her charity It’s Good 2 Give.
“We needed to find a piece of land that was suitable to build the retreat,” Lynne said.
“After putting out the newsletter, I got a phone call from David Ferguson to say he had land and would like to give it to a charity. He asked if we should meet. It was simple as that.
“I was blown away by the land, it was so beautiful."
Lynne was told that in order to meet the planning guidelines, the retreat would need to be an exceptional building. It was just as well then that they had architect, and the Falkirk Wheel designer, Tony Kettle on board.
“We were introduced to Tony last summer, and he wanted to do this for us and do it for free.
“He came back with this design which blew our socks off," she said.
“A year later, here we are, planning permission granted.
"I actually did cry, I really wanted to say thank you straight away but I couldn’t look at anyone without crying.
“People have been so kind to us donating their time and that’s what we needed.”
The Ripple Retreat
The property will have three bedrooms, with easy accessibility, and will be for young cancer patients and their families to enjoy for free for five to seven days.
Lynne is also hopeful that she can open the use up to young people who have life-threatening conditions and also bereaved families.
“It is called it the Ripple Retreat because Tony was inspired by the ripples on the loch and the rolling hills behind,” she explained.
“The roof will be made from zinc and there is lot of glass and oak on the outside so people can take advantage of the views.
“I think the setting is incredibly peaceful.
“We are going to have fishing rights on the loch, David has a tennis court he is going to do up, it is next to a national cycle network park and is ten minutes from Callander.”
'I won’t be stopping fundraising’
While news of planning permission is a major milestone in the project, Lynne has no intention of slowing down her fundraising efforts any time soon.
“I have £560,000 in the bank, which we have raised in four years.
The estimated build cost if £650,000 so I came up with a challenge to raise £100,000 in five weeks. We are in week two, and have raised £25,000 so I hope by the end of June that we have the £650,000 in the bank.
“But this isn’t enough,” she continued. “It will allow us to approach builders and get quotes but I still need more in the bank for running costs so I won’t be stopping fundraising.
“The money we have in the bank has been raised through community fundraising, there are no major donations in there or money for trusts of foundations, it’s been grassroots fundraising and I am really proud of everyone who has helped us do that.”
As well as raising the necessary funds, Lynne says the next stage for the charity is to get building standards approval.
She said: “This can be quite a lengthy process so we are at mercy of that.
“Our dream goal is next spring. We want to have an open week for anyone who wants to come along and see it to say thank you to those who have donated.
“I always wanted the retreat to be something that we could be proud of and that Scotland could be proud of, and I think we will be.”