Our member Carol Hamlett was stunned to be made an MBE in the New Year’s Honours.

Carol, director of Transforming Choice in Liverpool, which provides residential alcohol detox and rehabilitation, said it was “fantastic” to find out she was being honoured.

She said: “I got an email to say I’d got an MBE, which was absolutely fantastic, but it says it’s in the strictest confidence. I was like a fizzy bottle of pop wanting to tell people but you have to keep the lid on.


“My mum is absolutely thrilled. She is coming with me to the ceremony and is picking out her glittery frock as we speak. She’s already told everyone at the bingo.”

Carol has been made an MBE for 30 years of working with vulnerable people, predominantly rough sleepers.

Her time at Wigan and Leigh College in the mid-1990s, where she studied an Advanced Diploma in Counselling, had a huge impact.

“It was wholly person centred and changed the course of my life,” Carol said. “Kath Wilmer, one of my tutors, was such a massive influence on me and I believe everything I’ve done since was in the pursuit of recreating the nourishing environment on that course.”

Carol set up Transforming Choice in 2012 with colleagues Donna McDonald and the late John Mayhew.

“I left work counselling mostly young people who had ended up on the streets,” she said. “I was 54 and left my job. It sounds a bit mad to do it – and it was a little bit.


“I’m absolutely passionate about it. You can’t fix people but you can create the environment where they can do it themselves.”

Newspaper and TV agony aunt Deidre Sanders, a former BACP member, was also made an MBE in the New Year Honours.

She regularly championed counselling and the need for people seeking therapy to find a registered BACP member through her Dear Deidre column in The Sun, and continues to do so on ITV’s daytime magazine programme This Morning.

Elaine Bousfield, founder and lately chief executive of BACP accredited service Kooth, has also been appointed an MBE for services to children and young people’s mental health.

Iain Kennedy, director of the Aisling Counselling Centre, an organisational member in Enniskillen, receives a British Empire Medal.

A former Olympic rower and now a coach with the Enniskillen Royal Boat Club (ERBC), Iain receives his award for services to the Aisling Counselling Centre and the ERBC.

The centre was set up as a counselling service after the Enniskillen Remembrance Day bomb in 1987.

Positive mental health

Iain said: “From the beginning it’s crossed all cultural divides and we continue to promote it on that basis.

“We have limited government help but the financial and moral support of the community is paramount. I’ve been privileged to be part of it.

“I also coach Enniskillen Royal Boat club, a rowing club based on the same cross-cultural principles and I see the benefits of sport in the maintenance of positive mental health so the two things are closely intertwined.”