AN ACTRESS from York is starring in a new film about the pioneers of the cooperative movement, which will receive its TV premiere on Sunday.

Rachel Caffrey, 24, of Heworth, plays Betty Cooper, the powerful and influential wife of William Cooper in The Rochdale Pioneers.

A spokesman for The Co-operative Group, which commissioned the film, said it told the inspirational story of 28 men - and Betty - who battled against a backdrop of poverty and prejudice, and whose principles were still changing the world almost 170 years later.

He said: “It was the Rochdale Pioneers’ vision for a better social order which inspired them to overcome such adversity to form the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society – establishing a co-operative shop in Toad Lane, Rochdale in December 1844, that is recognised as the birth of the co-operative movement.”

“From these humble beginnings, it is estimated that there are now 1.4 million individual co-operative enterprises globally, with almost one billion members.” He said The Co-operative Group’s own origins could be traced back to the Rochdale Pioneers.

Rachel, a former Joseph Rowntree School pupil, said she had been keen on acting since she was about eight and had been involved in youth theatre at the York-based Riding Lights Theatre Group from the age of 12 to 18.

She then went to Oxford for a six-month foundation course before taking a BA degree in acting at Manchester. She has already had TV roles in Doctors and crime drama DCI Banks.

Rachel said her parents Michael and Valerie – usually fans of Downton Abbey – would be tuned into Film4 on Sunday, when the very different costume drama is screened at 5.45pm.