Setting singles on course for love
More people are turning to a Newark introduction service in the hope of finding love.
Matchmates Bureau, run by Mrs Margaret Douglas (73) of Adwalton Close, Newark, has more than 2,000 members from the town and across the East Midlands.
The service, aimed at single people and those who are widowed, separated or divorced, has an almost equal number of men and women.
They rangefrom 18 to 85 and are from a variety of backgrounds and professions, and includeteachers, receptionists, social workers and nurses.
Mrs Douglas said shyness, a limited circle of friends and alimited social life could keep people isolated from each other.
“A lot of people sit waiting for someone to knock on their door, but they never do,” she said.
“They have got to realise they get results by making an effort.
“There is somebody for everybody.”
Mrs Douglas said there used to be a stigma associated with using an introduction service but now it was often the first thing people tried.
“It is safe. You are not just picking up someone off the street,” she said.
Mrs Douglas said she did not hear about every successful match but had received thousands of letters over the years from people who found love, got married and had children after meeting a partner through the service.
Mrs Douglas said she was always on hand to give people advice or to select a profile she thought would be particularly suitable.
“I am Christian and believe that God works in mysterious ways,” she said.
“I believe I was put aside to do what I do.”
Mrs Douglas ran her own business, Raymar Fashions, designing clothes and interiors, before setting up Raymar Slimming, a national slimming and exercise group.
She lost interest in the business after the death of her first husband, Mr Raymond Hancock, in 1981, and sold it two years later.
Mrs Douglas said she felt lonely and asked a friend who introduced men and women to each other on an informal basis if she knew anyone suitable to match her with.
Mrs Douglas was introduced to four men before she met and fell in love with her husband, Mr Doug Douglas (66) who now helps with Matchmates.
The couple married in 1985 and in the same year Mrs Douglas set up Matchmates. They moved from Blidworth to Newark almost six years ago.
Mrs Douglas said: “My mother told me that when I was at school there was a little boy and girl who were very lonely and I took their hands and clasped them together.
“Looking back now, that was my first match.”
Members pay a one-off fee of £65 for membership and as many introductions as they wish.
They give details such as hair and eye colour, where they live, height, build, star sign, hobbies, likes and dislikes, and the qualities they would like in a partner.
Matchmates can provide a postal box number, email address or telephone number for potential partners to contact.
Mrs Douglas said some people chose to correspond by letter or telephone before meeting and others wanted to meet straight away.
Members are asked to thank an unsuitable partner and explain that they do not think they are right together, rather than just stopping contact.
“I believe people should be treated with respect,” Mrs Douglas said.
She gives talks about Matchmates to men’s and women’s groups.
Mrs Douglas is also the treasurer of Beacon Heights Residents’ Association, is on the management committee of Coddington Community Centre, is chairman of the Newark branch of Diabetes UK, and is the chairman of the Newark and Southwell branch of the National Federation of Self-employed and Small Businesses.
More by this authorPeter Harris