When Magherafelt man Paul Clarke approached Northern Ireland’s most exclusive matchmaking company in his quest to find love again, he could never have imagined he would end up helping other men in the same boat.
he 57-year-old has just been unveiled as Soirée Society’s new male relationship adviser as the firm gears up to help those looking for love after lockdown.
He will take on a role similar to that of Channel 4’s First Dates star Fred Sirieix by introducing couples and putting them at ease on an online Zoom date before they meet in person.
Paul, whose background is in hospitality, was a client of the agency and employed a matchmaker after discovering it was more difficult than he thought to meet that special someone.
“After being separated for three years I thought I was going to meet someone myself but when that didn’t happen I plucked up the courage to press the button and contacted Soirée Society. I found them very professional and confidential and the end result was that I met my partner Paula,” he said.
Having found his own perfect match, Paul is keen to help other men in the same position and is applying 35 years worth of skills in business ownership, management, customer care and relationship building to help in their search for “the one”.
He’ll also be helping men become “Mr Right”, and his advice will be more vital than ever for clients anxious about the daunting prospect of going back to face-to-face dates post-lockdown.
“Given my own positive experience I felt that I could offer a lot to the company in terms of seeing things from a man’s perspective. I’ve been single, married, separated and met the new love of my life, so I’ve experienced it all,” Paul said.
“If a person of my age can meet someone new, it shows that life is certainly not over and that there’s hopefully a match for everyone. I’ll take them under my wing, talk them through the process, answer any questions and calm their fear, which is always the biggest thing holding people back.”
Tyrone native and ex-bank manager Claire Hughes runs Soirée Society with her sister-in-law Rhoda Hughes, the company’s chief matchmaker.
With a clientele aged from 28 to 82, their matches have resulted in several engagements and marriages, with the first ‘Soirée baby’ born earlier this month.
Soirée’s ‘Love After Lockdown’ package is designed to make people feel at ease about going back out into the world for first dates with their matches and to help them become “their best selves”.
Claire explained: “We have partnered with image consultant Samara Prentice from Evolve Image Consultancy, and life and business coaches Evelyn McAleer and June Burgess.
“Also on hand is tailor Chris Suitor from Suitor Bros Menswear, and Kenny Parker, who owns luxury grooming salons The Man Shack and his new Bedford Barber Lounge.
“Our approach is bespoke, holistic and so much more than a soulless online dating site, with our new package designed to help people get ready to re-enter real-life dating after months of life in lockdown.”
For more, visit soireesocietyni.co.uk, or call Paul Clarke on 07712 718832.