A former alcoholic who opened a free counselling centre to help people beat their addictions has been named as a finalist in the 2013 Inspirational Women of the Year Awards.

Janis Feely MBE, a mother-of-two from Stevenage, is one of five finalists in the national awards, which recognise ordinary women who are achieving extraordinary things and inspiring others.

The 66-year-old became an alcoholic in the 1980s after struggling to raise two young children in an unhappy marriage.

She lost custody of her children but managed to win them back after beating her addiction.

The joy she felt made Janis vow to help others recover from the devastating effects of addiction.

After working in the field for 14 years, she set up her own treatment centre in Stevenage. The Living Room at The Glebe on Chells Way opened in May 2000 and has helped more than 2,000 people with their addictions.

As a result of Janis’ work, 43 children have been taken out of care and returned to their parents and many more removed from the Child Protection Register. Janis’ programme has also seen an average recovery rate of 70%.

Janis, who received an MBE for her work three years ago, said: “Being nominated for this award means a huge amount to me, both personally and for The Living Room.

“Having experienced and broken the cycle of addiction, I understand how difficult addiction is to overcome. When clients come to The Living Room, they can see from myself, counsellors and other clients that recovery is possible and this gives them hope that they too can recover.”

As a finalist, Janis has been invited to attend a reception on Monday at 10 Downing Street, hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron’s wife Samantha, followed by a charity gala, where the winner will be announced – receiving a £5,000 luxury break.

The Inspirational Women of the Year Awards are sponsored by British Gas.

The company’s HR director Anna Filipopoulos said: “Janis has been on a difficult journey to reach a point where she can use her experiences to help others turn their lives around. The work she does with The Living Room has a profound and lasting effect, not only on the lives of those overcoming addiction, but on their families, colleagues and friends.”