Mount Carmel Chairman awarded Rehab Chair of the Year

Bill Hughes, the Chair of the South London alcohol rehab Mount Carmel, has been honoured as ‘Rehab Chairman of the Year’ at this year’s UKESAD Addiction Recovery Conference.

Bill Hughes and fellow award recipient Huseyin Djemil
Bill Hughes and fellow award recipient Huseyin Djemil

The ‘DB Recovery+ McLean Deconstructing Stigma Awards’, were given at a glitzy, invitation-only dinner at the Tower Hotel. The awards went to, among others, a member of the House of Lords, a US Professor, an eminent psychiatrist, the government Recovery Champion – and the Chair of Mount Carmel. 

Bill Hughes told us: ‘I felt very honoured to be among such names, and I’m very grateful to the organisers, Deirdre Boyd of DB Recovery and Jim Holsomback of the McLean Hospital. I think it’s hard to split me out from the rest of our management team, and we are a team, so I take this award on behalf of all of Mount Carmel. I got sober there, I’ve been doing what I can there for 25 years, so I know what great work we get the opportunity to do.

‘And I also accept it on behalf of all the small, independent, affordable, not-for-profit residential rehabs who are working very hard, putting the clients first, and dedicated to their abstinent recovery. There are many approaches to addiction treatment across the UK, but I am very pleased to be working in this particular sector.

‘We’ve never faced a greater existential threat than we face now. The reduction in local authority funding caused by “austerity”, has already closed some 50 rehabs like ours in recent years, and it’s very sad that one more closed this week. At the same time, we have never been faced by a greater need for treatment than we face now. Addiction is a health issue and not a moral issue, yet treatment in the UK is now inaccessible to many who need it.

‘The country depends on residential rehabs to be there when other interventions fail. There are interventions that are less intense than ours that can be used to address alcoholism – drink diaries, controlled drinking, attendance at day centres. Many of our clients have been through these, and they have not worked for them. When all else has failed, it’s been proved that the only solution is intensive residential rehab. After that there are no more answers. We are the last hope for the helpless.

‘One glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel is that more people are funding their own treatment. In some ways this is wrong, in that addiction should be funded as a public health issue. But that’s not how it is, and in reality some people can get treatment only if they fund it themselves. And the good news is that people often find treatment is more affordable than they feared, that they can raise the funding, and we see this happening more and more.’

‘The final point that I would make is that recovery, solid, abstinent, progressive recovery, is wonderful. It reaches every part of the recovering alcoholic’s life – family, friends, work and the rest. We don’t just get better – we get better than better!’

Find out more about the work of Mount Carmel at

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