The A-Z of real people who don’t get smashed

By Posted in Inspiring Stories

There are many, many, celebrity related A-Z articles about drinking or the lack thereof. We’ve even done our own: a list of female celebs and a list of male celebs who don’t get smashed. So we thought “Hey, what about all the REAL people out there? The ones we see every day in our lives, who have used their experience to help us and who inspire us in the truest sense?” So here we are – the complete (ahem) A-Z list of REAL people who don’t get smashed and their very real stories:

A – Ali Press

Ali is one of our most engaged Club Soda members, she helps admin our Facebook groups and is always there spurring people on, providing advice and inspiration to those who are struggling. Ali’s a university lecturer and budding runner who quit drinking in April 2017 when she stopped finding it fun and didn’t like how the future looked. She says “Quitting has made just about everything better, from my sleep to my enjoyment of food and my engagement with myself and those around me, and I’ve no intention of going back.”

B – Butch Cherry

Butch lives in Colorado in the U.S, he’s been a truck driver for 40 years and is also an admin of our Club Soda Facebook groups from across the pond. “I love the sound of “I don’t drink” when it rolls off my tongue,” says Butch, who had his first drink at around the age of 10 or 11 and had his first experience of being drunk on his 13th birthday with his Dad on a fishing trip. After 30 years of drinking, he finally made the decision to stop drinking once he had built up the tolerance to drink a bottle of vodka and still function. “I was sick of feeling like crap all the time. I would see the disappointment in my wife’s eyes and my mood would become even darker.” Butch has been alcohol-free for over a year now and feels much healthier and happier as a result.

 C – Carwyn Tywyn

Club Soda member, Mindful Drinking Festival harpist and webinar-star, Carwyn, used to be an emotional drinker. He’s been alcohol-free for over 3 years now and says that having a hands-on approach to use what he’s learned to help others, is what’s kept him motivated for all this time. (Watch Carwyn’s webinar here).


D – Dawn Comolly

Dawn runs a fab blog called Sober Fish where she’s documented her journey since she gave up drinking almost 18 months ago. Dawn started out intending to do a year of no drinking in order to look and feel better, but once she felt so many more benefits she decided to give up longer-term. Dawn describes her drinking self as the “ultimate party animal” but she became bored of the sleepless nights and the emotions that go with it. Now, 18 months on, she’s a huge inspiration to those starting out on their non-drinking journey. Watch Dawn’s interview with us here.

E – Eric Dalsace

Eric is the Parisian genius who invented the oh-so-spicy chilli-infused ginger beer, Pimento. Eric gave up drinking 10 years ago and was looking for an alcohol-free drink which would provide all the burn and intensity of a good spirit – which before his creation was born, didn’t exist. Pimento has appeared at both of our Mindful Drinking Festivals and will be at the next one at Spitalfields Market on 28th July – and we’d thoroughly recommend giving it a try. 

F – Fennings, Shaun & Lee 

Brothers Shaun and Lee are the founders of Rok Soba, the tattoo, biker and Rock-inspired apparel and lifestyle brand. They gave up drinking together over three years ago, after a roller coaster ride involving too much vodka and whiskey, and are two of the longest-standing members of Club Soda. They gave up their day jobs and launched the brand, to prove that sober isn’t boring and you can still be a badass without the booze. You can help them raise money for Club Soda and The Princes Trust, by sponsoring their “Move Mountains for Alcohol Recovery” campaign where they’ll be taking part in an Everest Base Camp trek, in March 2019.

Catherine Gray Joy Being SoberG – Gray, Catherine

Catherine is the author of the Sunday Times best-seller, “The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober” – a part self-help, part memoir which Catherine wrote after four years of not drinking. The book is designed to inspire those who are thinking about changing their relationship with alcohol and to challenge the social stigma around not drinking. “It’s mostly for the sober-curious, as well as the trying-to-be-sober and the already-sober. It’s for people who want to quit drinking for six months to save for a house deposit and clear up their skin, as well as those who want to quit for good.”

H – Harriet Waley-Cohen

Harriet is a certified health coach, psychology graduate, and mentor. She’s been in recovery from addiction for over 15 years and has spent the majority of those years mentoring other women with drug and alcohol problems. Harriet ran a workshop during our Christmas Mindful Drinking Festival about sober sex and relationships, she’ll be hosting a webinar for us later this year and you can read the many articles that she’s written for us here.

I – I, myself and me (Jen Tree)

Well, I AM a mindful drinker… so I’m shimmying on into this spot. Absolutely nothing to do with “I” being hard to find or anything. I gave up drinking for three years, after being a no off-switch binge drinker since my teens. After three years of re-discovering everything about myself, breaking down and challenging all of my habits and reshaping my social personality, I carefully dipped my toe back into the world of drinking with a shandy. A year and a half later, I’ve worked hard to continue to be a mindful drinker and am lucky enough to write for Club Soda, work on their social media and run workshops with them to share what I’ve learned on a personal level.

J – Jussi Tolvi 

Club Soda co-founder Jussi is a moderate drinker and has been for a few years. He liked to party in his younger days but as he got older, the nights out became less fun and the hangovers became worse. He did a couple of year-long booze-free stints before settling on occasional drinking, where he’ll never have more than a couple of drinks.

K – Kim Hughes

Club Soda member Kim has been alcohol-free for almost 2 and a half years, after being the ultimate stay-out-all-night-and-take-anything party girl. After waking up after yet another blackoout, Kim decided enough was enough and set herself the challenge of seeing how long she could not drink for. After a couple of weeks, she decided to stick with it. Now, she’s still the vibrant, bat-sh*t crazy, incredibly funny party girl – just without the booze. On Friday nights she climbs into her disco bath, complete with disco balls, glitter and rave music, and sets herself up for the weekend which usually includes travelling, dancing, walking and quality time with her sober girlfriends. Kim’s written a bunch of blogs for us, so if you need some inspiration from this vibrant woman, check them out here.

L – Laura Willoughby

Laura Willoughby, Club Soda guru and co-founder, has been alcohol-free for 6 years following decades of no-off switch binge drinking. Laura’s dream for Club Soda was to create a world where no one feels out of place if they aren’t drinking, whether it’s long term or just occasionally. She’s called upon her personal experiences as both a drinker and non-drinker to connect with and inspire others, used her campaigning skills from her years as a councillor for Islington to drum up media coverage and call for a shift in societal viewpoints, and her research skills to create a successful programme and support group to suit varying types of drinking goals.

M – Morris, James

James stopped drinking for about 8 years throughout his twenties after hardcore binge drinking throughout his teens and university years, which led to some health complications. James then started to work within the alcohol field and felt he was ready to try to moderate his drinking, with some strict rules around what he consumed and how it made him feel. James has now been a moderate drinker for over 7 years, helps healthcare professionals talk to people who are experiencing discomfort with their relationship with alcohol, is a director at The Alcohol Academy and is currently studying for a PhD that looks at addiction and behaviour change. You can catch up on James’ webinar that he hosted for us on moderating alcohol intake here.

N – Nagle, Esther

Esther Nagle, founder of Balance and Breathe, gave up drinking 3 and a half years ago when she was 7 months into training to become a yoga teacher. She realised that she no longer wanted any hangovers and that the deeper she connected to her breath and with herself, the more she was able to relieve stress and balance her moods – something which she’d tried to achieve with alcohol previously but which had the opposite desired effect. Esther says that yoga has been “ absolutely fundamental to helping me to this place where sobriety wasn’t a struggle, but a very real choice I made, and was able to stick to.” Esther will be hosting a webinar for us on Sunday 27th May.  

O – Ordo, Sarah

Sarah, a make-up artist and business owner from Detroit, U.S. is the author of “Sober as F*** – My Two Year Journey of Rediscovery and Self Love” – a warts and all account of her road to sobriety. Sarah was a hardcore binge drinker who regularly blacked out before she gave up drinking three years ago, after waking up in hospital. She’s grabbed her new lifestyle with both hands, running a blog which shares her story and publishing her book two years into her journey, inspiring others who may be thinking about changing their drinking.

P – Pooley, Clare 

Clare has paved the way for lots of women and mothers who’d like to change their drinking. Clare, author of the book “The Sober Diaries” and the blog “Mummy was a secret drinker,” quit drinking over three years ago when she realised that it was affecting her time with her children and was creating anxiety, insomnia and an unwanted tummy. She’s since beaten cancer, has appeared in numerous tabloid newspapers to share her story and has joined us at some of our events, including our Mindful Drinking panel.

Q – Queers without Beers

Alright, I know this isn’t a person but it’s a really fundamental part of what we do as an organisation. Entering the world of no drinking or moderate drinking is already really hard – not only psychologically but socially. Many of us have felt that initial fear when we first tell our friends about our decision, or when we go out to a pub for the first time without drinking. The LGBTQ social and dating scenes are heavily associated with drinking, so we set up “Queers without Beers” – a monthly LGBTQ pop-up bar and social night at Syrup of Soot cafe, where people can come along sober, not feel out of place, and meet a great bunch of like-minded people.

R – Rosamund Dean 

Rosamund is a moderate drinker and author of “Mindful Drinking: How cutting down can change your life” – which we can thoroughly recommend if your aim is to cut down rather than to stop drinking completely. You may have met Rosamund when she appeared on our “Mindful Drinking Stories” panel at our festival back in December, when she shared her story and the method she uses to successfully moderate her drinking. Rosamund sticks to the rule of 3, which involves only drinking 3 times a week, and only 3 drinks each time.

S – Simms, Robyn

Robyn is the co-founder of everyone’s favourite Hackney-born craft soda brand, Square Root. Square Root have done a lot of work with us over the last year or so, including both of our Mindful Drinking Festivals and a Mindful Pub Crawl – and they’ll be at our next festival in July. Robyn decided to give up drinking for a year at the start of 2018 because she was unhappy with her drinking habits, the effect they were having on her life and the thought of needing to drink to have a good time. “I’m trying to prove to myself that I don’t need to drink to be me! I’m currently looking at a year of no drinking but I might do longer term.”

T – Turner, Jon 

Jon Turner, author of the Sober Punks blog, has been sober for almost 2 years. After many failed attempts, like many of us, Jon decided to give up properly and to approach it with positivity and rationale. He started his brutally funny, cripplingly honest and delightfully sweary blog one year into his sobriety to mark the occasion, inspire/resonate with others and to encourage people to share their stories. Absolutely give it a read whether you’re sober, moderating or just a little curious about the whole thing. “This blog is for anyone with an interest in alcohol struggles. Drinkers, teetotalers, serial quitters, those worried for a loved one, all genders, all ages, all tastes. Everyone is welcome. No f**king Coldplay fans though. There’s a limit.”

U – OK, U got me!

I failed. I couldn’t find a U. Is it U? Does your name begin with U? Are you Ursula the Sea Witch? Are you Uncle Dave?! Are you screaming “Argh, me! Me! At your screen, because you’re an awesome mindful drinker who should be in this spot?! Give me a shout if so, I will welcome U with open arms.

V – Veronica Valli

Veronica Valli is a Recovery Coach and creator of the Soberful program, a 6-week online coaching course that lays the foundations of sustainable sobriety. Veronica has been sober since 2000 after dealing with drug and alcohol addiction through her twenties. She’s used her experiences to inspire others and to help them overcome their own problems with drinking. Catch up on Veronica’s webinar that she hosted for us a couple of weeks ago on how to deal with anxiety and panic attacks here.

W – William Porter

William Porter is the author of Alcohol Explained, a hugely popular book with Club Soda members where he delves into the physical and psychological effects that alcohol has on us. William gave up drinking after he realised that the initial feeling of relaxation that alcohol provides, was outpacing the feeling of intoxication, which is often how people are physiologically affected – so instead of forever chasing that initial feeling, or trying to moderate and just ending up hammered drunk, he decided to give up altogether.

X – Straight Edge guy – Jamie Clough

X is the symbol for straight-edge, a movement from the hardcore punk scene whereby people don’t drink or do drugs. It’s an important movement to consider when thinking about people who don’t drink – it promotes individualism and is a lifestyle that’s fully embraced by those involved. Jamie Clough has been straight edge for 8 years. “I realised that I was getting drunk more and more often and doing stupid/dangerous things, not to mention losing entire days bed-ridden with awful hangovers. I hated the feeling that I wasn’t in control and I was wasting my life. Having grown up in the punk and hardcore scene I had always been aware of Straight Edge and at that point, it just made perfect sense. Now, 8 years later, I haven’t looked back once. To me straight-edge is more than just teetotalism, it’s a commitment to be responsible for myself, to be in control of my life and a promise to make the most of it.”

Y – Yasmine Ben Afia

Yasmine is 26 and is the founder of brand-new podcast BED TALKS, a revolutionary educational podcast for adults that discusses sex, relationships and reproductive health. She gave up drinking 19 months ago when her mental health was suffering dramatically, she felt her life was spiralling out of control and she realised that her drinking was problematic and that she would never reach her true potential if she carried on. “I had a desire to stop running away from myself and find some peace.” Yasmine initially gave up drinking for a month to raise money for MacMillan but she decided to keep going, never looked back and now she’s finally pursuing her dream of being a presenter. “I know for a fact this could never have happened if I was still drinking so I owe my life to giving up booze.”

Z – Amber ToZer

I’m not going to apologise – I had to include Amber and there IS a Z in her name. Amber Tozer is an incredibly talented writer, stand-up comedian, Twitter queen and the author of Sober Stick Figure – a book which uses comedy to delve into her heartbreaking story. Amber describes herself as an alcoholic who stopped drinking over 10 years ago after she hit rock bottom following her father’s death (who was also an alcoholic). She appeared at both our Mindful Drinking Festivals, talking about her book and her story – so if you missed her, then you have to read it. “Laughing at something that used to make me cry is one of my favorite things in the world.” {interview with The Fix.}

The common theme between all of these people, regardless of their story, or the reason they gave up, or what their drinking lifestyle is now, is that they’ve used their experiences to push them further. They’ve achieved things that they possibly wouldn’t have without making those changes – and they’ve approached it with positivity in order to achieve their goals.


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