A Happy New Year to all Friends of the Coach House. We trust you have had a Christmas filled with joy and peace. In this newsletter we wish to share with you some of the events and developments of last year, along with news of our current programme, and some of the matters being considered by the Board of Trustees.
In 2018 we welcomed a substantial number of people to participate in a range of our services, from individual retreats or sessions, to group events and workshops. People from far and wide are discovering the Coach House for the first time, through our website, through the Retreat Association, or through word of mouth. We were very pleased, too, to welcome back those of you who have stayed with us on previous occasions. We also welcomed a variety of groups including Highland Mindfulness, Highland Zen, L’Arche, HerSpace, several interfaith groups, as well as various Christian groups from different parts of Scotland. The monthly meditation group has also continued to flourish.
A new facility: the Garden Room
During 2018 we held an appeal to provide a Garden Room as an extra resource for the work here. There has been a tremendous response, – thank you to our many supporters. £7,000 has now been received to meet the costs of this project. The new timber building is situated in a quiet corner of the paddock, with a view across the Moray Firth. It is insulated and double glazed, with electricity for light and heating, enabling it to be used throughout the year. It is already proving its worth as a valuable additional one-to-one meeting space, and has helped us to respond positively to an increased number of individuals seeking spiritual accompaniment.
Running the house, with all its work
As many of you will be aware, the Coach House, overseen by the trustees, is run by a small core team comprising the Co-Ordinator and her Assistant, a part time book-keeper, a part-time caterer, along with a small number of short-term volunteers. Working in this way, through the generosity and commitment of individuals, we hope that as many people as possible will be able to benefit from visiting or staying here. In 2018 our short term volunteers came to help run the house from various parts of Scotland, England, Czechia and Finland, many have also helped in previous years. The garden and labyrinth too have been maintained and much enhanced by the hard work over the year of three local volunteers.
We thank all our trustees, staff, and volunteers, long term or short term, for their important contribution during 2018; together they have greatly enriched the work here and helped to maintain the Coach House and its setting as a place of peace and refreshment.
Unfortunately two trustees resigned during the year – Reg Holder because of the pressures of his other commitments, and later on, Ian Bonner-Evans, whom we had appointed as Assistant Co-ordinator in 2017. Reg shared his expertise, vision and commitment at a particularly crucial time of transition and development here, helping to steer this charity through all the negotiations, building works and finances of 2014 -6. He spent many long hours working with financial spreadsheets on our behalf! Ian needed to withdraw from the Board and from his position for compelling personal reasons at the end of August. In addition to his trustee work, as Assistant Co-Ordinator Ian brought a wealth of experience, along with warmth, humour and dedication to the team and to the ministry of the House. We thank both Reg and Ian for their tremendous contributions to this charity and its work. We also thank Michael, Ian’s partner, for his help as part time caterer in 2018.
Desmond Ryan tendered his resignation as Patron now that he is no longer associated with the University of Edinburgh. We offer our thanks to him too for his support.
Looking ahead into 2019.
We are very pleased to announce that Claire Starr was invited by the Trustees to take up the position of Assistant Co-ordinator this year to work alongside Ruth, and that she has accepted. Although Claire’s home continues to be in Edinburgh, she will travel up on a regular basis to stay at the Coach House. Many of you will have met Claire already as she has been a volunteer on the team since 2016, accompanying individuals on their retreats and also helping to provide amazing meals.
The Board is discussing the use of the Steadings to discover how they might be adapted to maximise and support the work of the Coach House. There is much potential for the site, but this will, of course, have big implications for our finances.
The programme for 2019
There are opportunities for shorter or longer retreats, or simply for individuals to come to enjoy a restful period for their own well being. For this year only there are no workshops, due to pressures on our small team, but we hope this style of event will return again in 2020.
Thank you for your support
On behalf of the Board of Trustees we would like to thank all who support us: through gifts of money, time, expertise, and prayers. Your contributions form a vital part of the Coach House life and ministry.
We have produced a new leaflet about being a ‘Friend’ of the Coach House which is available on our website if you would like to learn more.
We hope you will ‘spread the word’ about the opportunities available at the Coach House, and that many of you will be able to visit in this coming year.
With every good wish,
David Sutton, Chairman, and Ruth Flockhart, Co-Ordinator