The Ripple Retreat - by Guest Blogger Emily At CED Scotland in Castlecary
I recently visited a site that CED Castlecary Depot had supplied materials to, to picture the materials in-situ. Quite honestly I don’t think I have been to a more beautiful place in my life.
A cancer retreat built on private land on the shore of Loch Venachar, Callander. Everything about this place just blew me away, from the spectacular views to the striking building and landscape design and the story of how it came to be. You can’t not be inspired, and so I write.
In 2010 the charity It’s Good 2 Give was set up by Lynne and Ian McNicoll. The aim, ‘providing practical support to young cancer patients and their families at what is the most challenging of times.’
Over and above this purpose, they had a dream; to build a retreat where young cancer patients and their families could spend time together in a safe and relaxing environment. An escape from the challenges of living with this illness.
A small charity with a BIG dream. But a funding award, an incredibly generous donation of land from couple David and Jean Ferguson, and an introduction to award-winning architect Tony Kettle, thrust Lynne and Ian’s dream into reality.
And just as the ripples spread on the loch surface, word of Lynne and Ian’s ambitious and worthy project reached far and wide. Soon they had hundreds of people supporting them with donations and a team of professionals ready to work the project to completion. Read their amazing story here.
Tony Kettle of The Kettle Collectives, gave his time and expertise for free to design the building, taking in the natural surroundings; the ripples on Loch Venachar and the encompassing hills. The building is stunning inside and out and I feel very privileged to have been given a tour by Ian and Lynne themselves. Find out about Tony’s iconic design here.
Edinburgh based Semple Begg Garden Design were invited by Kettle Collective, pre-build, to design the landscape and we were delighted they chose CED products to realise their design.
Susan Begg and Nicola Semple’s aim was to create a design which echoed not only Tony Kettle’s visionary building design but also the living landscape beyond. It had to be beautiful, but it also had to be practical. To be fit for purpose it needed amongst other things, emergency vehicle access, wheelchair accessible gardens and play opportunities for the children who would be spending time there.
From the Loch’s cool blue waters to the snow-capped bens and wild green forests of the Trossachs they didn’t have to look far for inspiration. In fact a lot of time was spent drawing out their design sat upon driftwood settled on the pebbled shoreline.
The design had to fit the surroundings and so it made sense to them to use natural materials. For the paths they chose our mixed grade Scottish Beach Pebbles mimicking those which formed the beaches of the loch.
Susan describes the Cedadrive as, ‘A great product for trafficked areas – pedestrian and vehicular. A much more natural solution that’s perfect for rural setting.’
For the main feature in Susan and Nicola’s design, The Boardwalk, they took inspiration from Tony Kettle’s rippling roof profile on the retreat. Their design plays with the shadow line of the roof forming a rippling pathway down to the water’s edge.
Creating this design was a challenge. The path had to be flush to the ground and wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair with a person alongside. The section closest to the loch could be below the waterline for months at a time so this added an additional difficulty. Nicola explains, ‘We had to choose a seriously strong material and still maintain the light natural feel that the setting demands. This led us to CED’s Yellow Granite Planks.’
Another issue was that the standard Yellow Granite planks which CED supply were too short for the desired effect. Gary Ewing and Simon Copsey worked closely with Susan and Nicola providing technical support to determine custom sized planks which would achieve the design whilst retaining the strength and integrity of the product.
In keeping with the theme Buff Sawn and Textured Sandstone planks were used for entrance ways and the deck creating an elegant understated area where families can sit out and take in the beauty of the natural environment.
Work began in September 2015 and 18 months later The Ripple Retreat was officially opened by Charity Patron Grant Stott, and Scottish TV treasure, Lorraine Kelly.
The end result, culminating from big-hearted dreamers, charitable businesses and individuals, and hard-working, talented professionals, is as the location’s scenery determines it should be. Simply breathtaking.
Less than a year since opening Ian tells me donations are still rolling in and so far 16 families have benefited from staying at the Retreat. The comments in the guest book are telling of just how much having the chance to stay at the facility has meant to some of the families.
When talking to Lynne and Ian it is apparent how appreciative they are of all the generous donations they have received and also how proud they are of what they have achieved. Rightly so! Although a minimal part was played, CED are extremely proud to have been involved in the creation of The Ripple Retreat which will benefit families in need for many years to come. Lynne and Ian you are an inspiration. Faith in humanity restored.