When blacksmith artist Kev Paxton agreed to place his eye catching sculptures on the A84 and A85 BLiSS trail he could not have predicted the ripple effect his work would have on an ambitious charity project, on Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Strathyre and St Fillans (BLS) communities – and on tourism visits. 

The BLiSS trail has been hosted by the Loch Earn Tourism Information (LETi) group, to celebrate Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016.
It has been a tourist magnet, while BLS villagers have raised over £1,450 towards The Ripple Retreat building project on Loch Venachar.

The Ripple Retreat building is the inspiration of Its Good 2 Give charity founder and Chair, Lynne McNicoll, OBE. Led by architect Tony Kettle, a unique lochside holiday house is under construction on the banks of Loch Venachar, designed for young cancer patients to enjoy time away with their families.

The project’s success is down to passionate ambassadors like Kev Paxton and others who have offered time, skills and funding.

Lochearnhead Hotel owner Amanda Kerr was sponsored by BLS villagers 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 BLS Highland Games in Lochearnhead.

LETi launched the BLiSS roadside art installation trail in April. Collaborating with private and public tourism promoters and a dozen artists, the group aimed to attract more visitors to stop and spend time in BLS villages within Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.

Kev Paxton’s work, includes 3m high, steel “Sunflowers” at The Golden Larches Restaurant, Balquhidder Station, “Bill The Bull” at the Lochearnhead Hotel and “Blawn Wi The Wind” giant thistles at Briar Cottages on Loch Earn, all of which are linked to 22 other art installations along the four village trail.

The Lochearnhead Hotel owners Amanda and chef Robert Kerr have been proud to display Bill The Bull on their lochside grounds and to share Kev Paxton’s stories.

Kim Proven, Chair of LETi, 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.”
LETi and the BLS communities of less than 1000 residents prove that small business and community collaboration can have far reaching benefits and hope that their story will ripple out even further for greater effect.

Further info: Kim Proven, Chair of LETi (Loch Earn Tourism Information group) Email:  LETi BLiSS

Picture shows Kev Paxton’s Blawn Wi The Wind in background. From left: Kim Proven: Chair of LETi, Martin Sanders: BLS fundraising football manager, Kev Paxton: ArtFe metal artist, Catherine Stops: Ripple Retreat ambassador, Ollie Cameron: Married ladies football captain and owner of Lochside Cottages Lochearnhead.  Photo: Dave Murray.



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