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Each came for a personal interview, with Stella carefully jotting down their age, hobbies and preferences into a notebook."I didn't really have the foggiest idea what I was doing," she says now.
"I thought my own name was a little harsh," she says."I found her someone and she married shortly afterwards," she recalls."She later came to a party for the 25th anniversary of the agency and asked if I could sign her on again because she was now divorced. There were no average types." Soon, Stella had converted a bedroom of the family home from which to run her office."I just got on with it and decided I would deal with problems as they arose." Such was her determination that her first matchmaking attempts took place in the maternity wing of her hospital, where she had just given birth to her daughter.She matched her very first client, a shy widow in her early 40s who was looking for a new partner to help with the upbringing of her young children."I knew within a month that I'd made a dreadful mistake.
We had nothing in common and simply couldn't communicate.
By then working as a journalist on her local newspaper in Sheffield, where the couple had settled, Stella knew she would be unable to continue with her career but, with a stultifying marriage, was aware she needed something else to distract her.
"The fact that my friend had gone to a marriage bureau all those years ago had really stuck in my head," she recalls. "I couldn't help thinking that I could make a success of my own matchmaking service.
It is the ordinary folk, however, of whom she is most proud, and whose thank-you letters she treasures.
Like the one from the widow with three children who came to see her despairing that she would find love again.
They live in a raucous household just a few miles away."Another lady came to see Stella after escaping her violent former husband. I get a Christmas card from them every year, and postcards from their travels," Stella recalls.