Marquee outside Broadway Lodge main entrance
4th July 2023

A look back at our 2023 Summer Reunion

Our first reunion since 2019 was held last Saturday (1st July) and it was certainly worth the wait. We were lucky to have 125 former clients return, clean and sober, to reconnect with Broadway Lodge and celebrate recovery together with staff and current clients in our 49th year of operation. It was possibly the first time in the whole of Broadway Lodge’s history that we’ve had to pause the annual reunion for four years (due to the coronavirus pandemic), but we are overjoyed to have resumed this special occasion from now on.

49 birthday balloons at Broadway Lodge

Guests began to arrive at midday, some with their loved ones, with smiles on their faces and radiating love, appreciation and happiness. The sun made a timely appearance and shone for the whole afternoon giving us perfect weather for an ice cream from the Di Mascio ice cream van which was on site. In addition, Haverslice pitched up in a converted horsebox, offering freshly made pizzas and local burger van Mea’licious also served a selection of hot food. The Yellow Booth company set up the photobooth accompanied with boxes of props and fancy dress for everyone to use for fun and laughter and to capture memories.

Throughout the hour Broadway soon felt much busier and Markkus (Head of Treatment & Counselling) kicked off the day at 1pm hosting in his usual welcoming, friendly, high-energy fashion.

As part of his opening speech Markkus thanked our former CEO, Dr. David Sweetnam, for the positive changes he brought to Broadway Lodge and for taking us through the COVID-19 pandemic and the Broadway Lodge refurbishment project. Markkus then introduced our new Broadway Lodge CEO, John Aizlewood, who joined us in the spring. There was an emotional, sad and poignant 10 minutes where we remembered former clients who had tragically passed away over the last four years, many of whom were young. It was a chance to remember and pay respects to these friends and it was also a stark reminder to everyone how powerful and dangerous the illness of addiction can be.

Simon was the first of four inspirational former clients to share their experience of addiction and life in recovery. The marquee was full, with people standing around the edges and outside of the exits, intensely engaged in Simon’s share which he articulated so well, immersing the audience into his life journey. We met Simon’s wife and young twin sons too – it’s wonderful to see how lives can beautifully blossom and change in recovery.

It was soon time for the two workshops. The first one of the day was a drama workshop delivered by Jude Skilton from Morning After Drama (MAD), the brainchild of actor Paul Danan, who himself is in addiction recovery. Each participant picked a different card and had to act what the card instructed offering an hour of fun. Following the workshop, former clients Kelly and Annie shared experience, strength and hope through telling their personal journeys of life in addiction and in recovery. Annie came to Broadway Lodge over 20 years ago and had relapsed several times, however, she never forgot what she had learned at Broadway Lodge and has managed to get to six years clean and sober time. Kelly’s share was shorter and she described the pain of her addiction, her stay at Broadway Lodge and her recovery, now in its 8th year. Whilst they were very different shares both were unequivocal in their support for Broadway Lodge and the treatment they received. In between shares and workshops people were enjoying catching up in the sun, relaxing with some food and taking photos with each other.

Reunion attendees

Pat, Hilary, Mags, Louise, Michele & Aga

Counsellors in the marquee at the summer reunion

Counsellors Jane, Tasha, Carwyn, Chris & Andy

Counsellor Chris held her infamous and popular drumming workshop in the Main Hall which was full to capacity where participants created booming noise for over an hour. Following the drumming workshop, it was time for former client Val to share her story. Val was in treatment at Broadway Lodge 38 years ago and she brought her husband of 68 years, John, as well as her granddaughter Katie to support her. What a lovely family! It was only two weeks ago that we met Val for the first time. She was out on a day trip with her husband and ventured to Weston-super-Mare from their home in Wiltshire, and she asked John to try to remember where Broadway Lodge was. They found us and dropped in on the off chance to say hello and express their gratitude for saving her life. We are very pleased that they did make the journey here and that she accepted Markkus’s offer to do the closing share.

Val with Markkus in the reunion marquee

Val with Markkus at the front of the marquee

With the longest clean and sober time of anyone at the reunion on Saturday, Markkus referred to Val as the ‘Recovery Queen’. Starting with 38 years, Markkus did a clean time count down, similar to 12 step fellowship countdowns at conventions, and asked anyone with their recovery time matching the number he shouted out, to stand up. Once they stood, everyone would give a roaring, lengthy applause. Everyone who stood up, proud of their recovery time, went to the front of the marquee to give Val a hug. Recovery was counted down all the way to two days. A client stood up and made their way to hug Val at this moment. It must have felt daunting, but the applause they received was incredible. It really felt like the reunion ended as a celebration of recovery – very emotional and warming. To finish the day we all stood in a large circle, held hands and recited the Serenity Prayer.

The atmosphere was electric at this years’ reunion and we felt that everyone – reunion guests, staff and current clients – were left feeling elated and inspired by the day. We cannot thank all of the reunion guests for joining us on Saturday enough. It’s difficult to describe how the day feels to experience – it’s almost an overwhelming mixture of pure joy, acceptance, respect and love that doesn’t compare to anything else. A truly special, wonderful, powerful and heart-warming day seeing so many people come together at different stages of their recovery supporting one another.

We already cannot wait for next years’ Reunion which will be held in Broadway Lodge’s 50th anniversary year! A double celebration.