Sober October brings out the cold turkey before Christmas

A leading cancer charity is calling on drinkers in Kingston to go cold turkey before Dry January by going without alcohol for October.

Macmillan’s senior fundraising marketing manager Kirsty Hobbs said: “We’re asking everyone to sign up at for Macmillan’s Go Sober for October fundraising challenge and give up alcohol for a month, to raise vital money for people living with cancer.”

The organisers promote the health benefits of avoiding an Octoberfest and said the experience will bring “a clearer mind, more energy, weight loss, better sleep and a sense of achievement,” as well as a means to avoid the hangovers – or “hangxiety” – that may ensue for those who continue necking pints.

And if going sober for a month seems like a daunting and – fresh after Fresher’s week – socially incapacitating challenge, don’t worry. The challenge also offers a ‘golden ticket’ that lets you skip a day of abstinence guilt free – in return for a minimum £15 donation – in case you just can’t face an alcohol-free Halloween.

Mary Ward, a new Kingston sober-seeker, thinks this is a good thing: “It’s for a good cause and it means you can carry on with the challenge without feeling like you’ve blown it.”

Last year more than 65,000 people took part in the Go Sober challenge to raise £4.4 million for the charity which relies on public donations for 99% of its funding. Over 200 donations raised £20,400 for Kingston.

The donations came from sponsors of ex-drinkers, or “Soberheroes”, being rewarded for abstaining from booze. The funds help cancer patients and their families throughout the UK.

Archana Sood, Macmillan Information and Support Manager at Kingston Hospital said: “Just £204 could pay for a Macmillan nurse for a day. Go Sober also helps us fund services like the Macmillan Information and Support Centre at Kingston Hospital, where anyone impacted by cancer can access free advice, workshops, support groups or even just a friendly, listening ear.”

Kingston businesses won’t need to suffer from a financial hangover either, if they cater for low and no alcohol consumption. 

Susie Statham, Director of 7000 Jars of Beer, Kingston’s first bottle and tap room, stocks alternatives and sees an increase in sales of low-alcohol and alcohol free drinks during October. She said:

“It doesn’t affect our sales too much, we stock a decent range of low alcohol and alcohol free beers, as well as ‘adult’ soft drinks, such as kombucha and shrub. Our soft drink options have a reasonable acidity to them and still feel like they have a little bit of a ‘kick’.”

In 2016, the government lowered the alcohol limit of men to be the same as women, down from 21 units to 14, and advised to drink in moderation in one sitting.

With more breweries, like Big Drop whose slogan is “To drink. Not to be drunk”, producing low and no alcohol options, Statham pointed out that a healthy attitude could be practised all year – not just for October:

“I think it’s wise to practice responsible drinking year round, not just for one month of the year. We prefer the idea of having one decent beer and enjoying it, as opposed to many pints of something sub-par. Drink less, drink better.”


If you have signed up for Sober October let the Kingston Courier know how it is going!

If you struggle with alcohol and want to speak with others who understand what you are going through, Kingston’s Alcoholics Anonymous have meetings on Tuesdays at 8pm at Swinnerton Hall, 62 Gibbon Rd.

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