The Mount Carmel Barbecue 2017 - laughter in the rain (September 2017)

We often think that Mount Carmel must be like a Dr Who Tardis to be able to contain 18 bedrooms, plus all the communal areas, in one house.  However, that was severely tested as we hosted 130 guests at our shower-punctuated annual barbecue at the end of July.  But somehow we fitted everyone inside when we needed to, rising to the occasion as we always do.
It was, as it has been for some 30 years now, a very successful event.  The people attending – past clients and their families and friends, current clients, and staff – are a perfect picture, a cross section, of recovery in action.  The Annual Barbecue is one of our two annual reunions – the other is our Christmas Carol Concert – and they both enjoy a very healthy attendance every year.
There was an infeasible amount of food and soft drinks available, plus games for the children, with the current clients making light of the serious responsibility of the hosting and catering.  Keeping up a steady supply of burgers from a barbecue despite intermittent showers was a challenge that caused them no problems at all.
The focus of the event is for old friends to meet up again, talking about times past and what has happened since.  And of course being people in recovery, they have no problems talking about times past.  And talking.  And talking …
But it’s also a chance for people in early recovery to see that solid recovery lasts, and that Mount Carmel works.  There were people with over 30 years recovery, and the chairman noted in his brief address that the two people sitting next to him were his fellow graduates from 25 years ago, a testament to our treatment programme.  And of course it’s not just the number of years that counts, but also the quality of that sobriety.  This is underlined by our graduates telling how their lives have moved on since their time with us, in terms of family, jobs, and their new outlook on life.  Life moves on when you’re doing it right.
CEO Ruth Allonby summed up what the occasion meant to her.  “It’s great that all our guests are obviously enjoying themselves and having a good time.  But quite honestly, I think I enjoy this event more than anyone.  To have seen how people were when they first arrived here, people I then got to know very well, and to see and hear all the progress they’ve made, is a tremendous bonus for me.  It’s a clear statement that Mount Carmel provides a real and lasting benefit to our clients and their families and friends.  We really do mend people’s lives.”
Ruth Allonby