Virtual Pub Crawl a Massive Hit

A unique online gathering that lasted the summer lockdown has drawn to a close, but not before uniting people from all over the world and raising an incredible £8,500 for the patient care services provided by Alice House Hospice in Hartlepool.

The #VirtualPubCrawl was started by Hartlepool man Rob Dignen over Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

Unable to go out, Rob started tweeting using the hashtag and posting links to songs. The idea being that people listened to music together, chatted on Twitter and had a drink at home, to recreate the much-missed feeling of socialising.

The VPC grew in popularity and became a fortnightly get-together on Twitter.   Rob was approached by Russ Purdy of Brands In The Air who created branding for the event and Radio Matlock, an online station based in Derbyshire who offered to broadcast a radio show, hosted by John ‘Redders’ Redhead to soundtrack the pub crawl.

People from all over the UK and beyond, stretching as far as the USA, Japan and Australia joined in the event, which took place twelve times between the Easter and August Bank Holidays.

In May, Rob nominated Alice House as the charity of the #VirtualPubCrawl, setting up a fundraising page and inviting participants to donate. Throughout the summer, supporters of the event held prize draws, sponsored events and gave multiple donations, all in support of the charity, whose usual fundraising routes had been severely compromised by the impact of COVID-19.

Rob set a fundraising target of £500 to offset some of the lost income from the Hospice’s cancelled Beer Festival at Hartlepool Rugby Club, which Rob had previously attended. Less than four months later, an incredible £8,500 had been given.

The VPC was also sponsored by Exwold Technology, who are regular supporters of Alice House.

As the event grew, Radio Matlock introduced a second show called VPC Introduces, hosted by music fan and champion of new bands, Sam Shiner from Wiltshire. Both Sam and Redders entertained followers of the #VirtualPubCrawl every other Saturday afternoon and helped to promote the fundraising side of things too.

VPC Creator Rob said “It’s unbelievable, who knew something so silly would go this far? It’s just incredible. The effort and generosity are amazing, I’m blown away by it and really pleased that we have covered the money that Alice House would have missed out on from the cancelled Beer Festival. Thanks to everyone for their support; I’m so proud.”

When thanked for his involvement and enthusiasm, Redders said “I just sit and sort the music out, Alice House Hospice makes a real difference every day!”

Sam said “It’s been an absolute pleasure to be a part of and I still can’t believe how much was raised, it’s incredible. It’s been lovely to get to know what Alice House Hospice does and I will be happily following the charity from now on!”

Deputy Fundraising Manager, Greg Hildreth at Alice House said “There are too many people to list but on behalf of Alice House, I just want to thank every single person involved in this incredible thing. A huge amount of money was raised at a time of great difficulty for charities.

The VPC also brought people together at a time of loneliness and uncertainty for many. This was a once in a lifetime experience and a really positive one for so many reasons.”

Rob and fellow #VirtualPubCrawl organisers are now planning to host a number of live music events, which will proceed when restrictions allow.

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Hartlepool Hospice Ltd (known locally as Alice House Hospice and formerly Hartlepool & District Hospice)
Registered office: Alice House, Wells Avenue, Hartlepool, TS24 9DA.