‘A day I will never forget’ – emotional send-off for founder of Stevenage addiction centre

Janis Feely with the staff from The Living Room.

Janis Feely with the staff from The Living Room. - Credit: Archant

More than 100 people who have battled addictions came to bid farewell to a woman who founded a rehabilitation centre and helped them to confront their demons.

Janis Feely was surprised when she unveiled a plaque naming The Living Room 'The Janis Feely Centre'

Janis Feely was surprised when she unveiled a plaque naming The Living Room 'The Janis Feely Centre' - Credit: Archant

Janis Feely retired as CEO of The Living Room at The Glebe, on Chells Way in Stevenage, on Friday, having spent 16 years at the helm.

She founded the centre in May 2000, after successfully overcoming her own addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs.

She became an alcoholic in the 1980s after struggling to raise two young children in an unhappy marriage, but has been 30 years sober.

The Living Room supports people with addictions to anything from alcohol and drugs to gambling and sex.

Janis, 69, decided to retire to spend more time with family and friends, especially her five-year-old twin grandchildren.

On Friday, more than 100 clients - both past and present - and staff attended a ceremony which saw Janis surprised with a plaque naming The Living Room ‘The Janis Feely Centre’.

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Trustee Rev Tim Horlock, of St Peter’s Church in Broadwater Crescent, thanked Janis for staying true to her vision, and a number of clients and staff made speeches and gave presents.

Janis, who has won many awards, most notably an MBE in the 2010 New Year’s Honours List, said: “It was a lovely day, and very emotional. I can’t believe the amount of people who were there. It was quite amazing. It’s a day I will never forget.”

Her husband Joe, who she met at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting 24 years ago, said: “It was a very moving day and I’m immensely proud of her. This place is unique. You can’t compare it to other charities - it’s a family.”

Joe, who has been 25 years sober, retired as a trustee the same day.

A new CEO was due to take the helm, but the recruitment process has been started again.

Janis will be involved with interviews and, as honorary president, she will also continue to give talks for The Living Room.

For more about The Living Room, visit www.thelivingroom.me.uk.

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