A POPULAR pub now has 270 ‘virtual’ regulars thanks to a new initiative.

After the Albion Arms on Battersby Lane called time in March and has remained closed ever since, a Co-op Member Pioneer made the call to create a Facebook group for its customers, which is now going from strength to strength.

David Appleton, who supports community initiatives as part of his role for the retailer, now sees 270 regulars at ‘The Virtual Albion Pub.’ Every week, the group enjoy a games night with bingo, a quiz night, a comedy night, live music and even a DJ every Friday, broadcasting live from his own home.

David said: “The pub really brought all my neighbours together. As lockdown measures came in, I wanted us to have a place where we could all still catch up. It’s been a great success too – we’ve got a waiting list of 40 people wanting to be a contestant on games night!”

As well enjoying the show from home, members are also sharing problems or calling out for advice as part of the group chat.

David continued “For some of us, the pub was our one chance to connect.

“It felt especially important to keep that up, as the need to self-isolate keeps some people in their homes.”

Russell Gill, head of co-operative & local engagement at Co-op said: “We’re beyond proud of what David’s doing in the community. Co-operation is an important part of everything we do, and this is a great example.”

Member Pioneers and Member Pioneer Co-ordinators engage with people across their community to find out how they can help make a difference. They work for the Co-op to bring together members, colleagues and local causes, to make their community a better place to work, play, live and learn. For more, visit coop.co.uk/member-pioneers