Kev’s sculptures spark big community effort
Funding is raised for retreat
When artist Kev Paxton agreed to place his eyecatching sculptures on two local roads, he could not have predicted the ripple effect stories linking his work to a charity building project in aid of young cancer patients would have on the surrounding community.
Three of the blacksmith’s creations can been seen as part of the A84 and A85 BLiSS trail – a chain of 22 installations first unveiled in April and hosted by the Loch Earn Tourism Information (LETi) group to celebrate the Scottish Government’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016.
His contributions include the three metre-high steel ‘Sunflowers’ at the Golden Larches Restaurant in Balquhidder Station; ‘Bill The Bull’ at the Lochearnhead Hotel and the ‘Blawn Wi The Wind’ giant thistles at Briar Cottages on Loch Earn.
In addition to his artwork, Kev is also an ambassador for the Ripple Retreat building project on Loch Venachar. The inspiration of It’s Good 2 Give charity founder and chair Lynne McNicoll and led by architect Tony Kettle, the holiday house is under construction and will eventually allow young cancer patients to enjoy time away with their families.
Since learning of the facility through Kev’s involvement with the BLiSS trail, villagers in Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Strathyre and St Fillans have raised £ 1450 for the Ripple Retreat building.
Lochearnhead Hotel owner Amanda Kerr was sponsored to take part in the Run MHOR half marathon, raising £605.
A further £750 was collected at the community football fundraiser held the day after the recent Highland Games in Lochearnhead.
The latter sees married men play against local bachelors in the Highland Games field. Married ladies also play single ladies at half- time entertainment, and coveted team trophies are awarded at full-time.
“BLiSS trail sculptures have captured the imagination of locals, which is how we found out about the Ripple Retreat,” explained Martin Sanders, who championed this year’s football fundraising event in Lochearnhead.
He added: “We will watch the building progress with interest and thank everyone who donated.”
Amanda, along wi t h Lochearnhead Hotel chef Robert Kerr, is proud to display ‘Bill The Bull’ within her establishment’s grounds.
She said: “We learned that each strand of Bill‘s multicoloured metal coat was painted by children, who donated money to Its Good 2 Give in return for making their indelible mark.
“Bill has been delighting families at our hotel and Kev’s Ripple Retreat stories inspired me to run the half marathon to collect more funds.”
LETi chair Kim Proven said: “Local tourism businesses have been honoured to host Kev’s head-turning sculptures.
“They have been lighting up the faces of visitors of all age groups. I describe Kev as a creative metal artist who works in steel with a heart of gold.
“We invite anyone who has not experienced his amazing installations alongside other gifted artists’ and architects’ work, to visit our naturally beautiful and welcoming villages soon - with a camera and ‘selfie’ stick!”
It’s Good 2 Give’s Lynne McNicoll declared: “I am delighted to have the support of the local community around the Ripple Retreat and with such innovative fundraising.
“Community fundraising has been at the heart of It’s Good 2 Give – most of the money raised for the Ripple Retreat has been done this way and I am so proud of that. When we open the doors of the retreat to families of young cancer patients in 2017 we do so knowing that we all played a part in its creation.
“Well done and a massive thank you to the villagers. I wish now that I had seen the football fundraiser – it sounds lots of fun!
“I was fortunate enough to meet Amanda before she took part in the half marathon and I very much look forward to meeting more of the community in the coming months.”