man doing home renovations sat on a staircase holding a drill

How Chris, 45, beat the booze – and is now starring in S4C’s new series.

11 Nov 2019 | 3 min

A Builder who was given just months to live after a 15-year battle with alcohol is set to star in a new TV property programme.

Chris Rees, who at one point was living on the streets, has completely turned his life around by ditching the booze, getting married – and even running a 50-mile ultra marathon earlier this year.

Now Chris, of Llannor, near Pwllheli, will appear as a contestant on Tŷ am Ddim, a new programme that we are sponsoring.

It involves two strangers teaming up to buy homes at auction, before carrying out major refurbishments and ‘flipping’ or reselling the property within six months - and keeping any profits.

The eight week series airs at 8pm every Thursday on S4C.

Chris, 45, said: “I thought this would be a new challenge that I could get my teeth into. I’m a builder by trade, so I have the experience. I saw the advert which said the producers were looking for someone who would work hard renovating a property for six months and thought ‘this is right up my alley’.”

He’s come a long way since the dark days of his alcoholism, which saw Chris drinking up to 400 units a week, equivalent to 19 pints of strong lager or five and a half bottles a wine every day.

At his worst Chris weighed just six stone and was in and out of hospital – downing pints of lager each time he was discharged. He lost his home and, unable to stay with his parents because of his drinking, found himself couch surfing at friends’ houses or sleeping rough in boat yards where he’d drink himself into an alcoholic slumber.

As a result of his illness, the father-of-one developed blood cancer and pancreatitis and was on 80 different prescription drugs including the strong pain killers morphine and Tramadol. He also has to inject daily doses of insulin to control his type 1 diabetes.

Chris, a former pub landlord, said: “I was a raging alcoholic for 15 years and it has really taken its toll. In the end, the doctors said that if I drink another alcoholic drink I would die a painful, horrible death and I just thought ‘I’m not doing this anymore.’”

Witnessing the devastating impact his drinking was having on wife Alison, 43, and 14-year-old daughter Katie, Chris quit alcohol. Now, four and a half years into his recovery, he said he’s feeling “fitter and healthier” than ever.

In June, he ran the “crazy but amazing” Pen Llyn Ultra Marathon, a 24-hour, 50-mile race around the Pen Llyn peninsula in North Wales. He’s also set up a Facebook group for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts called Sober Ninjas, which has helped more than 300 people on their own paths to recovery, Chris said.

For his latest challenge in Tŷ am Ddim, he’s teamed up with fellow competitor, Luke Philips, 22 from Caernarfon who works at a builders’ merchant and hopes to put any profit he makes into a deposit for his own home.

Chris said: “I was first introduced to Luke the day before the auction at Chester and we hit it off straight away – even though he’s a Manchester United fan and I’m Liverpool!”

He added: “I don’t want to give too much away but we’ve had to put a lot of work into the house and we’ve been all over the place blagging discounts on things we needed like kitchens and boilers. I’m really looking forward to seeing the results on TV.”

We agreed to a sponsorship deal, which includes us providing auction finance for the contestants to buy the properties, after being approached by Criccieth-based Chwarel Productions. S4C will broadcast eight hour-long episodes before the series moves to Channel 4 next year.

Chwarel founder and director, Sioned Morys, said: “Chris and Luke have done a tremendous job within the six-month timeframe and it’s particularly impressive given Chris’s tough background.

“We’ve had great fun making the programme and it would be fantastic if it inspires others to pursue their dreams of property renovation.”

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