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Festival keynote speakers

Rosie Wilby

Rosie Wilby is an award-winning comedian, author and podcaster who has appeared many times on BBC Radio 4 programmes including Woman’s Hour, Saturday Live and Four Thought. Her first book ‘Is Monogamy Dead?’ was longlisted for the Polari First Book Prize and followed a trilogy of solo shows investigating the psychology of love and relationships. Her new book ‘The Breakup Monologues‘ is based on her acclaimed podcast of the same name and is published globally by Bloomsbury. She is on Twitter @rosiewilby and Instagram @breakupmonologues.

Events: Rosie will be signing copies of both of her books at the end of her session at the festival.

Veronica Valli

Veronica Valli is changing the narrative on sobriety. With 22 years of sobriety and 20 years of experience as a recovery coach and psychotherapist, she understands that there is no ONE path to sobriety. Author of the book ‘Soberful: Uncover a sustainable, fulfilling life free of alcohol‘ published by Sounds True, co-host of the Soberful Podcast, and creator of successful online recovery programs, Veronica has helped thousands of women not only recover from alcohol, but also transform their lives. Now based in the US after relocating from the UK, she is married and lives in the USA with her husband and two sons.

Events: Soberful 1-day retreat – 16/7/22

Festival masterclass hosts

Jane Peyton

Jane Peyton is an award-winning drinks educator, writer, broadcaster, pub expert, and public speaker. She is the founder of the School of Booze – a training, education, events company, and consultancy specialising in no & low alcohol drinks and their alcoholic drinks equivalents. School of Booze was named as one of the Top 100 SMEs in London & the South East Business Awards 2021.

Jane was the UK’s first accredited Pommelier (cider sommelier) and Britain’s first Beer Sommelier of the Year. She is a former Imbibe Magazine Drinks Educator of the Year. Jane is the instigator and driving force of the UK’s annual national beer day – Beer Day Britain (June 15th). For her beer work, she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement from Britain’s Parliamentary Beer Group, and has won several other professional awards. Jane is the author of several non-fiction books including ‘Drink: A Tippler’s Miscellany’, ‘Beer o’Clock’, ‘The Philosophy of Gin’ and ‘The Philosophy of Beer’.

Emma Inch

Emma Inch is a multi-award-winning freelance writer and audio-maker, and former British Beer Writer of the Year. Emma has written about beer and pubs for a number of national and international publications. She also produces creative audio and podcasts for the drinks trade. Emma is the current Chair of the British Guild of Beer Writers and lives in Brighton.

Robin Lomax

Robin Lomax is the founder of AF Beer Club – the UK’s first and leading alcohol-free beer subscription service. He hosts monthly Meet the Brewer sessions online as well as the annual AF Beer Festival and AF Beer Awards. Come and join Robin for a live beer tasting, trying a host of beers from producers appearing at the festival over the weekend.

Gemma Mills

Gemma and Richard meet each other in the supplements world then four years on, they started to explore alcohol-free spirits as part of their healthy lifestyle. Gemma wanted to make these options more accessible and to provide a strong choice and experience for those looking for an alternative drink. JOMO Club was born bringing the best AF alternatives directly to their members’ doors. JOMO Club is now an award-winning subscription and gift box showcasing the best-tasting, highest-quality alternatives to alcohol. All while experiencing the joy of missing out.

“We are passionate about spreading the ‘joy of missing out’ and providing an opportunity to try the highest quality, best-tasting alternatives to alcohol! We’re doing it for those looking for alternatives to alcohol, we’re doing it for those creating the alternatives to alcohol and we are kind of doing it for ourselves – because we’re having so much fun!”

Amy Armstrong

Amy Armstrong is from Australia and is on a mission to create positive and inclusive drinking experiences for all and to normalise non-alcoholic drinking in Australia. Using her extensive knowledge and expertise in the sector, she connects her customers with the best quality non-alcoholic drinks that are suited to their individual tastes. Amy believes that by removing the stigma around non-alcoholic drinking and creating the best possible experience by the Dry but Wet customers, they are more likely to stay on track with their health goals and enjoy a social and rewarding, sans alcohol.

Choosing a life without alcohol has had a massive impact on Amy’s life, the personal growth she has experienced over the 2 years is incredibly significant. “A big part of what I promote with my business is maintaining the ability to socialise without alcohol. I have found that non-alcoholic drinks have played a massive part in this, keeping me feeling included and not having the FOMO. I have become MORE social after going sober as I am not having to deal with the guilt and constant cycle of apologising and wondering what I have done.”

Festival speakers

Laura Willoughby

Laura Willoughby

Laura Willoughby MBE is co-founder of Club Soda, the Mindful Drinking Movement. Their aim is to help people drink more mindfully and live well.

The inspiration for Club Soda comes from Laura’s experience of giving up drinking ten years ago. A campaigner at heart with a background in movement building and politics, she realised that one of the big sticking points was a way to support people to take a self-guided journey to change their drinking.

Club Soda has over 70,000 individual members and nearly 100 brand members who they support through research and collaborative projects. They have built a drinks guide and they run the UK’s only Mindful Drinking Festival which is now in its 8th edition. Laura and her team opened the pop-up alcohol-free shop in London’s West End in 2022. She is co-author of How To Be A Mindful Drinking published by DK books.

Laura is Imbibe’s No & Low ambassador and judge for the IWSC awards.

Dru Jaeger

Dru Jaeger

Dru Jaeger is co-founder of Club Soda, a global community and Certified B Corporation supporting people to drink more mindfully and live well.

Dru’s varied work experience turned out to be the perfect preparation for leading a mindful drinking movement. In previous roles, he has been a support worker for people with drug and alcohol problems, a communicator working with social businesses and national charities, a researcher specialising in the field of health policy and a coach supporting people who want to change their lives for the better.

Dru is the lead author of How To Be A Mindful Drinker, which was published by DK in 2019, and he co-presents the Club Soda podcast. In his day-to-day work, he leads Club Soda’s programme of courses and workshops for people who want to cut back on alcohol, take a break from drinking or stop for good. He can be found on Instagram @drujaeger and at drujaeger.com.

Amanda Sober Artist & Guide

Amanda will be 3 years sober in September, she is a proud sober artist, who came out when she became sober. She guides and inspires others to connect with their unique creativity and to let go of the stories holding them back. She runs the Creative Resilience Circle and loves the life she has created. “Sober is a superpower, I became sober when I worked on my mindset and let go of the beliefs holding me back from living the creative life as a painter (a dreams from a child). I launched my brand Creatively Curious and knew booze played no part in my life!”

Aaron Calder

Aaron Calder celebrates 10 years sober in August. He was always a binge drinker which led him to become alcohol dependent until he was hospitalised with chronic liver disease in 2012. After turning his life around and overcoming his addiction he started a successful vegan food blog in 2016. His diet and lifestyle has seen his health improve dramatically and he now helps others in a similar situation.

Dr David McLaughlan

Dr David McLaughlan is a consultant psychiatrist with over a decade of experience working in mental health and addiction. He was awarded a research fellowship at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, and received a scholarship from The Royal College of Psychiatrists for further training at Oxford’s The Centre For Sustainable Healthcare. David has contributed to research papers, academic journals and internationally recognised prescribing guidelines. He undertakes clinical work at The Priory Hospital in Roehampton, and is passionate about the use of innovation to increase healthcare accessibility.

David is the Co-Founder of Alma, a free app designed to support people who want to change their relationship with alcohol. He supports LGBTQ charities and is an active member of an LGBTQ inclusive swimming club. He is on Instagram as @thatdrinkdoctor for alcohol related topics and @offdutydoctor for more general mental health issues.

Dr Sarah Flowers

Dr Sarah Flowers is an addiction psychiatrist and private practitioner at The Priory. She is proficient in managing the range of substance use disorders and addictions and is experienced in assessing a wide range of co-existing mental health disorders. Dr Sarah Flowers combines clinical expertise with a deep understanding of recovery. She was elected a director of Alcoholics Anonymous UK in April 2015 and leads a programme of addictions training across the South East.

She was mutual aid lead in Brighton and established the first mutual aid hospital steering group at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton. The group has implemented innovations, including Brighton’s first Recovery Festival. Sarah set up Brighton and Hove’s first legal high clinic in late 2013.

Clare Kennedy

Clare Kennedy is a passionate community change-maker, keynote speaker and successful business-for-good developer. Alongside her husband, former soap star Kevin Kennedy, she founded Kennedy Street Foundation: a Brighton based charity set up to offer support and signposting to people looking for recovery from addiction. Both Clare and Kevin have been clean, sober and helping people for over 22 years.

Jonny Stevens

Jonny Stevens is the founder of Better Without and VP at Better Rhodes in the US. Better Without is the world’s first app for discovering alcohol-free drinks and venues. The idea for the app came about after Jonny gave up alcohol and felt the need for a platform dedicated to alcohol-free drinks. Jonny gave up alcohol in July 2020. He drank for the flavour rather than the alcohol and the improvement in low/no alcohol options was a massive part in helping him give up. He decided to quit as the post-drinking anxiety became too much.

“My friends were big drinkers so addressing that wasn’t the easiest, but over time they accepted it. Interestingly over the last 12 months if the number of friends who have stopped drinking or really cut back. I think moderation is so important and if someone wants to completely stop then that’s great too.”

Mark Vessey

British photographic artist Mark Vessey is best known for exploring and celebrating icons of pop culture. Lovingly curated, the subjects of his images include magazines, books and vinyl records that have had special significance within the popular cultural heritage of the 20th and 21st Centuries.

Lea Watson

Lea is a qualified teacher, trainer and sober coach who has built up a range of tools to manage her mental health and delivers workshops to organisations enabling open discussions around alcohol and its effect on mental health.

She founded GlowSober as an Instagram review page for alcohol-free drinks and literature which has evolved into a platform for organisations to support their employees. It raises awareness of alcohol and online Mindful Drinking courses for those who are not ready to commit to the investment of a coach. Reviewing and promoting alcohol-free drinks is fundamental to GlowSober and the resource on both Instagram and Facebook are free and accessible to all. Having a choice and availability of alcohol-free alternatives can make a huge difference to those wishing to either moderate or abstain.

Lea has dealt with depression and PTSD since the death of her son in a road traffic accident when he go into a car with a drunk friend. She spiralled into unhealthy drinking to numb the pain and by July 2020, realised that she was a functioning alcohol, psychologically dependent on drink. She made a decision to live and honour the memory of her son and is now committed to profound and lasting change by promoting the positive benefits of sobriety and supporting those that wish to take a more mindful approach to their own alcohol consumption.

Claudia Cahalane

Claudia runs Vitality Qigong, and is a freelance journalist and former editor of the Guardian’s charity and social enterprise networks. In 2015 she trained as a mindful movement instructor as a way to improve her own mental wellbeing and to support others trying to do the same. She runs classes for clients who are trying to reduce dependencies, for mental health charities, schools, businesses and the general public and is currently a meditation coach for the UK’s School of the Decade. Claudia’s life has been affected by spending her early years with alcoholism in her close family.

Events: Simple movements and breathing exercises designed to calm the nervous system/reduce the stress and uplift the mood. Ideal as part of a weekly routine to help reduce reliance on unhealthy habits.

Tuesday evenings: Qigong/mindful movement and meditation sessions in St Ann’s Well, 6.30-7.30pm – £9 (£7 concession).

Wednesdays: online Qigong/mindful movement, 12-12.40pm – £6 (£4 concession).

Seb Royle

Seb founded PLATF9RM in 2016 determined to transform people’s working lives. PLATF9RM was formed to inspire, provide the alternative and challenge the accepted. His drive to keep seeking ways to improve and evolve helps to cultivate the buzzing, innovative and progressive PLATF9RM environment. A resident of Brighton for over 10 years, having moves from London with his family, he has found his approach to a healthier lifestyle aided by the environment that the city provides.

He started his sobriety journey in April 2016, and a couple of blips later, has now been sober for 18 months. “I decided that managing my drinking wasn’t working, and went clean. This was due to the way I felt during and after drinking and the struggle to maintain mental wellness throughout.” Having given up completely, he was confronted by the reason why he drank and has since discovered many methods of keeping his mental health in balance. Lifestyle, Yoga, Meditation, diet, sea swimming, gratitude lists, friendships in and out of sobriety, etc.

Hakeem S. Allen

Hakeem S. Allen is an Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) architect, as well as the Founder and Executive Director of The Anti-Racist Social Club (‘The Club’), a registered charity start-up that works to create spaces and resources for education and open dialogue about becoming anti-racist allies and creating psychological safety in businesses and education. Hakeem leads interactive workshops to help reshape organisational cultures and equip Senior Leadership with IDEA best practice. Anti-racism is inherently intersectional, so The Club helps organisations improves their cultures, and the work they create, to be more diverse in all aspects of identity and ability (e.g., gender, sexuality, neurodiversity, etc.). Hakeem keeps his audiences engaged through games and discussion-based activities, and keeping content relevant by incorporating mental health, design thinking for innovation, and neurodiversity into workshops.

Outside of work, Hakeem is an avid tennis player, creative writer, and stand-up comedian. “I gave up drinking three years ago for a healthier lifestyle and haven’t looked back.”

Maryann Wright

Maryann works in strategic advisory and crisis communications, managing PR for the entertainment and charity sector. She has also enjoyed a career as a singer and actor in the performing arts. Originally from Australia, Maryann co-founded Women in Theatre and Screen Australia in 2014, campaigning for gender equality in theatre, film and television. She produced all-women theatre festivals and think tank events tackling systemic concerns about the representation of women in the entertainment industry. She was nominated for the 2017 Australian Women in Leadership Award for her work with WITS.

A proud LGBTQ+ cis-women passionate about LGBTQ+ rights and representation, she founded and runs Sappho Events to create social and sober events for LGBTQIA+ women across the UK. She is also an LGBTQ+ ambassador for Inclusive Minds, consulting on LGBTQ+ representation in children’s literature.

Events: From pottery to spoken word open mic nights to board game nights and speed dating, Sappho Events run a whole variety of social events for queer women, trans and non-binary people! They have a number of events happening – especially in London – which you can check out at @sapphoevents on socials for more info.

Kate Baily

Kate Baily is a habit change and women’s wellbeing specialist and the founder of Love Sober. Working as a professional coach, expert trainer and author her work focuses on creating holistic, joyful pathways of lasting sobriety for women. Kate is an ICF Accredited trauma-informed Integrative Sobriety and Life Coach Practitioner, specialising in sobriety, holistic well-being for the midlife, perimenopause transition and stress management. She was a finalist in The International Coaching Awards in 2019. She has co-written two books about sustainable sobriety for women: Love Yourself Sober (2020) and Love Your Sober Year (September, 2022). She is a specialist Coach trainer for The Coaching Academy in Addictive Behaviour & Habit Change.

David Mahoney

David is a trainee counsellor (CPCAB Level 4 and BACP member) with over four years of sobriety under his belt. Through his decision to get sober, came a big personal development and growth journey which led to his retraining as a counsellor. A mental health and self-care advocate, David’s mission is to allow people to find empowerment in their life and for everyone to speak and listen openly about their feelings.

Adam Woodhall

Has had lots of sober fun… By day, Adam is a climate activator. By night, or early morning, in the case of Morning Gloryville, he has been having sober fun for over 10 years, including at one point being MGV’s ‘Chief Firestarter’.

Katya Rose (Sober Raccoon)

Katya has lived in Brighton for 11 years. She has been sober since January 2022, after a few failed attempts but it’s stuck this time. She loves to talk honestly about her experiences in terms of drinking, mental health and finding out who you are once you’ve stopped drinking. She has an interest in writing and talking about her experiences and her Instagram is dedicated to posting about those experiences.

“I’m particularly interested in socialising sober as it was one of my greatest barriers to stopping drinking and one of the biggest reasons I drank. I think it can be a big barrier for everyone, especially given our culture around socialising and alcohol. I love to tell people that it won’t be as hard as they think, and even when it is hard, that’s ok, they will get through it and come out the other side feeling so glad they did it.”

Neil Hudson-Basing

Neil is an Events Manager who gets shit done, loves running, glitter, chocolate, burgers, volunteering, bold shirts and dogs. Passionate about the LGBTQ+ community and equality, diversity and inclusion generally, he took a short break from alcohol and still on it a few years later. “I’ve gone from being someone who was a crazy party boy drinking all the drinks to someone who now loves to party just without drinking. I don’t define myself as a sober but alcohol-free for now – I haven’t ruled it out ever again but for now, it’s not right and I can’t ever see myself going back to how I used to be. I’ve learned to still have fun without booze and it grates on me that people still don’t get that 3+ years later. I’ve run events in my day-to-day role as an events manager about the benefits of taking a break from alcohol and my passion for the LGBTQ+ community means I have a deep understanding of the role drugs and alcohol plays in that and how to still be part of that without it.”

House of Happiness Mission Statement: When you open the door to The House of Happiness, this it what you’ll find… A flamboyant alcohol and drug-free clubbing experience that invited everyone to raise the big colourful roof. Get your buzz from the banging tunes, meet awesome like-minded people and experience all the highs without the lows! An inclusive place where you can be 100% unapologetically yourself, have fun and DANCE. A proper OUT, OUT experience.

We’re a group of 4 shape-throwing friends who share a love of clubbing and house music. We’ve given up the hangover and comedowns, we’re not ready to leave the party just yet! If this is where you are right now, step inside The House of Happiness. We’re not going to put the kettle on. Grab your best clubbing gear and we’ll see you on the dancefloor!

Ronnie Traynor

Ronnie has over 20 years’ experience working in the music industry from a brief career as a DJ in the early 90’s to working at Global Management Company ‘Various Artists’. After getting sober for four years Ronnie decided to re-train as a therapist, move to the seaside and open a Cafe/Bar which would stock the best in low and no pours.

Events: The Sober Social weekly is a place to meet like-minded sober warriors sharing their experiences, strenght and hopes! It’s a place for the old timers, the newly sober and the sober curious. It’s also a space for anyone who might be worried about a friend and just wants to find out more. It’s totally anonymous too and a non-judgemental safe space! It’s a place to have a little fun. On a mission to make sobriety an aspirational lifestyle choice not one to be ashamed about.

Sarah Williamson

Sarah is a coach, podcaster and writer, she’ll help you to find JOY and COLOUR on the other side of alcohol! She firmly believes we don’t have to hit rock bottom, we’re allowed to want something different and we can choose to improve our lives from this point onwards. Sarah works in the magic space where doubt, hope and action meet. “I’ve been sober for 2.5 years and coaching other people to Drink Less; Live Better since 2020.”

Events: Bee Sober host monthly brunches across the world including, walks, cold water dips, craft events, dinners, theatre trips, fitness events and retreats.

Emily Syphas

Emily is a Self – Power Coach and founder of hangover-free community, Sober & Social. She founded Sober & Social in 2018 and wanted to empower, encourage and support those exploring or leading a teetotal lifestyle.

Bernadette Russell

Bernadette Russell is an activist, author, storyteller, and theatre-maker who has created work for National Theatre, Birmingham Rep, National Trust, Royal Albert Hall and Tate Britain amongst many others. In 2015 she became one of the Southbank Centres “67 Changemakers” for her multi-faceted project 366 Days of Kindness. Her latest book “How To Be Helpful” was published by Eliot and Thompson in 2020, and the stage version was a collaboration with Folk Dance Remixed with music by DJ Walde. In 2022 she was the subject of the BBC documentary “The women who was kind every day for a year.”

Sophie Turton

Sophie Turton is a mental health advocate and a co-host of the ‘Through the Lens of Recovery’ podcast with Annie Murray which explores the nation’s obsession with booze. She is the sober burlesque performer ‘Peaches LaMore’ and an all-round exhibitionist, showing that fun certainly does not end when you stop drinking. Sophie is also co-founder and director of The Joyful, a brand and marketing agency for purpose-driven businesses.

Events: Annie Murray, founder of Horizon, a film and production training organisation for people in recovery and Sophie Turton, director of The Joyful, talk about addiction, and the invisible superhero cloak worn by those choosing to live a life free from alcohol. Though the Lens of Recovery is a podcast about hope, resilience, inspiration and triumph in the face of adversity. Through conversations with addiction and mental health experts, as well as stories shared by those in active recovery, this podcast takes a vulnerable look through the lens of addiction and recovery in the UK.

Nicola Price

Nicola Price


Nicola is the founder of Inspirational Breathing. She is a teacher and practitioner of Breathwork., a speaker and emergent gathering facilitator. She has been a breathworker for 10 years and 8 years alcohol free. Nicola has a background in coaching and corporate training and has dedicated her working life to breathwork since 2010. She spends her time growing the community and running workshops. She loves sharing breath and her ideas on social media.

Anit Chatrath (Crouching Cider, Hidden Waggon)

Anit has been living to the full and alcohol-free for nearly seven years! He lives free and parties.

Dani Penariol (Digital Intelligence)

Dani was the Marketing Manager of one of the biggest Brazilian entertainment companies and was on the verge of burnout. She left the country with a single plan: to find herself again. Three years later, she can say that it is possible to find success and fun in ways that are much lighter than alcohol.  Dani believes that business is about strategies. After managing some of the largest Brazilian entertainment companies, and mentoring small businesses she currently partners with a digital printing company in England. Dani now supports companies in finding the differences that lead businesses to success’s and fun in ways that are much lighter than alcohol.

Nancy Evans (nancyevanscoaching.co.uk)

Nancy Evans

In April 2018 Nancy decided to wave bye-bye to alcohol for good. “I made that decision once and I haven’t looked back”. Nancy has since trained as an Addictive Behaviours Coach, supporting other women to take back control and live a life they love. Passionate about healing the cycle of generational trauma within her own family, she is training in Compassionate Inquiry, an approach developed and taught by Dr Gabor Mate, expert on addiction, adhd and childhood trauma. You will find Nancy sharing her vulnerability and her story on Tiktok @sober_loving_radical Helping to raise awareness about the ‘grey area’ of alcohol use disorder.

Jason-Candid Knüsel (www.healthyhospo.com)

Jason-Candid Knüsel

Jason-Candid is an award winning bartender who has developed an arsenal of skills in hospitality over more than a decade in high-end environments. Since the hospitality industry took a hit due covid-19, Jason took on the opportunity to expand his knowledge around the topic he loves most – Nutrition & it’s impact on ones health. Since June JCK has taken over Healthy Hospo, an organisation with the mission to create a healthier & happier hospitality industry. The freshly baked Managing Director tackles issues around the mental health pandemic, the staffing crisis, the sustainability of people & promotes a healthier approach to the drinking culture.

Dr Sophie Cook

Dr Sophie Cook

Writer, speaker, actor, broadcaster & photographer. LGBT & mental health campaigner. Hon Doctor of Letters. RAF veteran. Self harm and suicide survivor. 13th most influential figure in Brighton, apparently… oh, and transgender. Dr Sophie Cook became the first transgender woman to work in football’s Premier League as club photographer for AFC Bournemouth following her transition from Steve to Sophie in the summer of 2015. Europe’s first trans TV newscaster, Sophie has hosted her own TV and radio chat shows and is an experienced broadcaster. In the 2017 General Election she contested the East Worthing & Shoreham seat, increasing the Labour vote by 114% and narrowly missing out on becoming the UK’s first trans MP. Despite all of this I lived my life in fear, of loss, of failure, of success, of being sad, of being happy, of myself, of being outed, of being loved. Because of these fears, no matter how hard I pushed myself to succeed subconsciously I would self sabotage and stop myself from reaching my full potential. Now I talk about these fears and how I overcame them to be true to and, finally, start loving myself. From my childhood memories of being transgender to post traumatic stress after an incident when serving in the Royal Air Force and a lifetime of pain and fear before finally coming out as transgender in the masculine world of Premier League football. I discuss the fear of change and how we can reframe our experience of fear to enable us to reach our potential, lessons I learnt on the painful road through loss to my ultimate redemption

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