Saturday 10 December 2011

Heading South

A glorious evening. As the gale wrecked and howled the trees around Craigendarroch we sat and drank a glorious bottle of champagne and tucked into Balmoral chicken. That's a confection from the Queen's butcher in Ballater ; a chicken breast stiffed with haggis and wrapped in bacon. Just the ticket for watching the semi finals of Master Chef !

It was a lovely end to our Highland idyll. But not without incident. The Hound and I had been on a wind swept walk to an isolated and ruined Church on the Dee. Just after we had passed down the track , a tree was felled by the wind and blown onto the very track we had traversed. But the journey was worth it. An atmospheric graveyard. One of the most interesting graves is that of Fr Lachlan McIntosh , for 64 years until dying in 1846, the faithful pastor of the catholic souls of Balmoral and Ballater. You can find his grave with ease because his gravestone is set facing West. All priests are buried in the opposite direction to the laity whose heads lie East. This is so that at the Final Call the Priest can arise , facing his parishioners and lead the Faithfull to Paradise (don't say my Blog is not educative! ).

It was an evocative spot and a good place to remember the anniversary of the beheading of my ancestor Sir Edward Neville , who met his end this day in 1538 at Tower Hill for refusing to renounce his Faith. I like to think speaking truth to power is a family trait! Though not one leading to beheading thank you very much!

We have now seen the results of the next financial settlement for local councils. More pain for our sector. Tony Travers is warning of serious cuts to children services. What this means to our CEOs is illustrated by the tale of one of our members who has turned to us for help and advice.

The CEO reports that they have lost 60 % of their funding, from LAs and contracts. They have reduced all staff hours, including hers. She
Has negotiated reduced rent and made all cuts they can achieve. They are working closely and collaborating with others as they are committed to retaining the services they provide at the high level of quality they provide because they have such huge commitment to their beneficiaries. The
CEO is constantly pushed to provide " answers" by staff, board, authorities and service users. She says that she turns to ACEVO to provide support for her sanity !

Many more tales like this will be coming.

But now I head back to Yorkshire for the weekend!

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