Dragon Theo hands award to The Alcohol-Free Shop

Christine Risby from The Alcohol-Free Shop receiving our certificate from Theo Paphitis

I spent a lovely day yesterday with Dragons’ Den star Theo Paphitis.

We were among the winners of his SBS competition who were invited to a celebration at the Edgebaston Cricket Stadium in Birmingham.

Theo was very generous in sharing his business expertise and made everyone feel genuinely welcome and inspired. We were all presented with an official winners’ certificate.

I met some very enthusiastic business owners and entrepreneurs and shared our experiences. It was good fun.

Theo is well known for enjoying his tipple and told me he wasn’t planning to go tee total himself,  but he is very supportive of what we are doing.

Maybe we can persuade him to swap his favourite beer for an alcohol-free one at least some of the time!

Think Safe Drink Safe card scheme launch

The Alcohol-Free Menu
The Alcohol-Free Menu

We’ve had a very favourable reaction from guests at today’s Think Safe Drink Safe card scheme launch at Manchester’s Midland Hotel.

We’re supplying products for the initiative with The Alcohol-Free Menu to encourage pubs and clubs to offer customers more choice by providing a wider range of alternatives to alcohol. The aim is to help people make sensible drinking choices.

I was at the launch to promote The Alcohol-Free Menu and talk to guests about the range of wines and beers on offer which they had a chance to taste this lunchtime.

It was very encouraging how positive everyone was about the products they sampled and lots of people agreed that the alcohol-free drinks were just as good as alcoholic varieties.

One woman who had previously trialed alcohol-free drinks in a city centre venue said some customers actually preferred the alcohol-free versions. That can’t be bad!

The Think Safe Drink Safe card has been launched in partnership with the NHS, Police and the Home Office. Participating pubs will offer the loyalty-style cards to customers who will be able to use them to take advantage of promotions on alcohol-free drinks.

We’ve always argued that there is a demand for good alcohol-free alternatives in pubs and clubs if only they are made available. This initiative aims to prove this to licensees and hopefully, in time, every venue will get the message.

We’ve got Think Safe Drink Safe cards to give away to customers who visit our shop in Failsworth so ask for one when you call in.

Here is a video interview with Liz Burns of Manchester NHS talking to Andy Walker from OurLife.

Women in Business Award

Tonight I am exhausted. It’s been a busy week.

On Thursday, I was delighted to win an award for Women in Business presented by Manchester’s Lord Mayor Cllr Alison Firth at Manchester Town Hall.

The award recognises women who succeed in businesses based on ethical or cooperative principles. It was one of several made that night to women of achievement in fields such as voluntary service, health promotion, race equality, and the advancement of women in political life.

It was a great great honour (not to mention a complete shock) to share a stage with these women, many of whom have made great strides in spite of disadvantage, discrimination, disability or personal suffering. To meet them and hear their stories was an inspiration.

On Friday morning my feet were firmly back on the ground, well, up a ladder actually, as we continued painting our new shop. Even ‘award winning’ business women have to do their share.

Although we’re still working hard to get the shop ship shape, we’ve been determined to keep up business as usual.

This is harder sometimes than others. Visitors are always welcome at the shop. Unfortunately, we still don’t have any signage so, even though we are on a major route into Manchester, we can be tricky to find.

Today our customers were gracious enough to turn a blind eye to the paint in my hair, scruffy t-shirt, and holes in my old decorating jeans when they called in to sample our wines and beers.

Thankfully, they were very patient even though not all our systems are fully up and running which means processing payments can be slow.

We expect to be up to speed by this time next week when we hope more customers will come and see our new premises, and I can show off my award!

For now, I’m going to finish my glass of Weinkonig Merlot, and call it a night.