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Trio honoured for work fighting addiction

Deserved recognition: From left, Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Health, Wendy Brangman, accepting the award for her brother Charles Williams, Russ Ford, Sandy Butterfield and Joanne Dean (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Three “heroes” of the fight against addiction have been recognised for their tireless work in the community.

Russ Ford, Sandy Butterfield and Charles Williams have been at the forefront of drug and alcohol treatment on the Island for more than three decades.

Last night the trio’s tremendous achievements were recognised during an awards ceremony at Elbow beach attended by Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Health. During a long and illustrious career, Mr Ford cofounded the Aids charity STAR in 1986 and went on to set up Bermuda’s first and only hospice, Agape House.

He also looked after Bermuda’s prison population for more than 22 years, finishing his career in corrections as the senior nursing officer.

“Many people say that the profession of substance misuse treatment and prevention is a thankless task — I beg to differ,” he said after being presented with his award. The greatest joy one can experience is knowing the persons you are serving are the individuals that will come back to you later and say ‘thank you, I really appreciate what you have done’ and ‘you have made a big difference in my life’.

“I want to thank those responsible for this particular

award, but this here is for my patients. Those are the ones that taught me.

“Listen to your people, they have a lot to say.”

Yesterday’s award ceremony, which was hosted by the Department for National Drug Control as part of Recovery Month, attracted counsellors as well as the recipient’s family members.

Ms Butterfield cofounded the charity Focus with Jerry Griffiths to provide support for addiction sufferers in 1993 and has worked in the field for nearly 30 years.

She said: “My journey in this field has been amazing, and the people have been amazing.

“I would like to thank everyone; you have all been part of my life and I have had a really good time.

“I have gone home tired, but always with a sense of satisfaction.”

Meanwhile, Mr Williams began his career as a nurse at St Brendan’s in 1977 and went on to work in mental health services and addiction treatment for 37 years before he retired in January of this year.

Although he was not present to receive his award yesterday, his sister Wendy Brangman received the plaque on his behalf.

She said: “On behalf of my brother I would like to thank everyone for this recognition. He had a great impact on the community.”

Ms Atherden praised all the recipients’ contribution to the field of addiction treatment and urged others to follow in their foot steps.