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Ep 12: Crafting a New Drinking Narrative with Laura Willoughby
Episode 124th April 2024 • The Big Drink Rethink • Anna Donaghey
00:00:00 00:55:28

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Anna Donaghey, sits down with the indomitable Laura Willoughby, campaigner, and founder of Club Soda.

Laura shares her insightful journey from founding Club Soda in 2014 to spearheading the mindful drinking movement. Through her mission to educate and guide, Laura explores the evolution of the non-alcoholic drinks industry, challenges mainstream drinking habits, and nudges the hospitality scene towards inclusivity and choice.

This episode is packed with thought-provoking discussion about alcohol and its wider impact on society and how it is evolving. Laura and Anna dive deep into the need for changing drinking culture, examining the impact of current regulations on innovation, and the significance of education about alcohol content. Laura’s message is clear: it's not just about reducing or giving up alcohol. It's about adding variety, quality, and joy to our lives. Whether you’re moderating, abstaining, or just sober-curious, listen to the episode to learn more.

Here are the highlights:

00:01 Laura's journey, from drinking problems to sobriety.

08:26 Cultural shift towards alcohol moderation and acceptance.

11:48 Overcoming drinking reconnected me with my values.

16:16 Promote alcohol-free options for social events.

17:57 Hospitality should focus on experiences, inclusivity.

21:54 Government needs to revise alcohol-free drink definitions.

30:26 Moderation, education, and lower alcohol options recommended.

34:54 Government policies should recognise alcohol-free drinks' value.

47:40 Increase availability of non-alcoholic drinks in shops.

About Laura Willoughby MBE:

Laura Willoughby MBE is the founder of the world’s largest mindful drinking movement, Club Soda. She is the UK’s foremost expert in low and no alcoholic drinks and through Club Soda, runs the Low & No Tasting Rooms in Covent Garden. 

Laura was named number 16 in 2023’s Drinks Retailing’s latest Top 100 Most Influential People in Drink, one of the 100 most influential women in hospitality by CODE, and is a Trustee for The Drinks Trust. The Club Soda Tasting Room was Drink Retailing’s Independent Retailer of the year 2023. She is a trustee for the Drinks Trust, Imbibe Ambassador and judge for WAFA, IWSC and Publican of the Year.

Receiving an MBE for services to the community in 2004, Laura’s devotion to Club Soda means hundreds of thousands of people are supported in their journey to live well by being more mindful about drinking alcohol. Laura’s part in the transformation of the non-alcoholic drinks sector in the UK from niche into the mainstream cannot be underestimated. In addition to organising 10 editions of the Mindful Drinking Festival nationwide, her work also includes developing education courses, conducting research and generating guides to Low & No alcoholic drinks.

Connect with Laura:


Visit us at the Club Soda Tasting Room & Bar in Covent Garden. The Tasting Rooms are a space for consumers to try and buy low and no alcohol drinks - with private tastings and cocktail classes.  

You can find Club Soda at on social @joinclubsoda and at The Club Soda Tasting Rooms, 39 Drury Lane, London, WC2B 5RR

About the host Anna:

Anna is a certified Alcohol Mindset Coach, trained by Annie Grace of This Naked Mind. Drawing on her own journey out of alcohol addiction, she now helps others explore and control their drinking. With a career spanning 25 years as a Strategist in the Advertising industry, she combines her own lived experiences, with great insight into what makes us tick and what influences us to behave the way we do.

Connect with Anna:




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