World Virtual Quiz star, Jay Flynn, is running the Virgin London Marathon 2021 on Sunday 3 October 2021 to raise money for The Connection at St Martin’s, the homeless charity which helped him off the streets over 10 years ago.
Jay now lives in Lancashire with his wife and child. Jay will be running past the bench on Embankment where he slept rough, on his London Marathon route, which starts in Blackheath and ends in Whitehall – not far from The Connection’s Westminster base.
After a career in hospitality including being a pub landlord, Jay became a breakout star of the pandemic. What started off as a quiz between mates during the first lockdown became an online sensation – Jay now poses questions to people across the globe every week in his Virtual Pub quizzes. Since March 2020 he has raised over £1,000,000 for charities, holds an MBE for his efforts, and now is turning his sights to finishing the London Marathon in 2021.
When The Connection at St Martin’s first knew Jay twelve years ago, life was quite different for the Virtual Pub Quiz host. Jay first heard about the charity when one of the Connection’s outreach workers left a card where he was sleeping rough in the West End. The Connection works with people sleeping rough in Westminster, many of whom come from all over the UK – which has the highest number of homeless people living on the streets in the country. It is there for people when things have gone profoundly wrong, and there is nowhere else to turn.
For Jay, the loss of his grandfather during his teenage years meant he found making decisions about jobs and education difficult. Eventually, after a job that didn’t work out and a relationship breakdown, he was forced to sleep rough in London. After two years on the street, he was found by The Connection and came to its centre near Trafalgar Square. The charity supported Jay with finding somewhere to live and helped him regain his confidence. Jay started getting control of his life again and starting his career in hospitality.
Jay says: “Covid has shown how important it is to look out for one other and to check in with your friends about their mental health. If someone had really talked to me about how I was feeling, I might not have ended up on the streets. When grief and depression are overwhelming, you end up isolating yourself, and going into a downward spiral. I was lucky that someone from the Connection reached out to me and helped me get back on my feet, which is why I’m running to raise money for this incredible charity. ”
The Connection at St Martin’s CEO Pam Orchard says: “It’s down to the generosity of our supporters that we are able to continue our vital services to help people get off and stay off the streets of London and to meaningful futures and a place called home We’d like to thank Jay and all our runners, for their incredible efforts in completing the London Marathon in October 2021.”
Jay is supporting others as he connects with thousands of others across the world virtually through his Virtual Pub Quiz, which has won him a Guinness World Record and a Points of Light Award from the Prime Minister. He regularly features on Zoe Ball’s BBC Radio 2 programme and has published 2 books.
Jay says: “This is my first Marathon so it’s good to be part of a team of five running the streets of London on Sunday October 3rd. I hope as many people as possible will be able to support Team Connection so that we can raise as much as possible to support people to recover from homelessness.”