QUIZMASTER and former pub manager Jay Flynn is being awarded an MBE for his services to charity during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Darwen man set up a virtual pub quiz online when lockdown struck which, to his amazement, went viral with over 182,000 people playing along from all over the world.

Jay’s quiz has raised £750,000 for various charities including The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields, a charity very close to Jay’s heart.

The 38-year-old, who lives with his wife, Sarah and son, Jack, aged three, said: “I nearly fell backwards off my chair when I heard about the honour. I thought, ‘This can’t be real.’

“When I did that first quiz I thought it would just be a one-off to have a bit of a laugh and a giggle and that will be it.

“The fact that people take the time out of their day and have enjoyed it that much and feel that I have made that much of a difference to their lives to then go to the honours committee and nominate me for an MBE is staggering.”

Sarah, 32, works for the NHS and Jay can’t believe he is receiving the same recognition as key workers who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic.

“To be on the same list as people who have been out there saving lives and been on the front line – I am absolutely humbled and honoured by it,” he added.

“It was crazy to think that people wanted to watch a quiz by me but the community that we have raised behind it, getting messages from people who had been isolating on their own, it was so lovely to know I might have made a difference to people's life by doing this.”

Jay understands the feeling of isolation very well after he was homeless on the streets on London 11 years ago and his life was turned around by charity The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Speaking about the charity that saved him, he said: “They are really honoured that I am being recognised for what I have done.

"I was homeless in London for two years and when they came to my aid and found me, I hadn’t spoken to anyone for two years.

“They rebuilt me from a shell to the person I am now. At that moment I said to them, I will repay this debt and in their eyes, nothing needed repaying it was what they do.

"As soon as this took off in the way that it did and we saw the money being raised for charity I knew that this was what I wanted to do and they were really honoured that I was still thinking of them eleven years later.”

Jay is still running his virtual quiz on YouTube on Thursday and Saturday evenings.

He has also penned a new quiz book – Jay's Virtual Pub Quiz Book.