Jacqui Baker, from Cavendish Drive, found herself single three years ago aged 53.
She tried online dating, but says it just wasn’t for her. Uninspired by the often superficial, fast and ruthless world of internet dating, Jacqui felt there must be a better way.
She decided to look at mature singles events aimed at the quirky, higher end market, something that was not readily available or accessible for singles over 45.
And in December, she launched Select Connections, a matchmaking service for singles aged 45 upwards.
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Jacqui said: ‘I have always had the instinct of matching friends, colleagues and acquaintances over the years. This has given me so much satisfaction and delight. I decided why not turn my love for socializing into a business. I recently completed a very in depth matchmaking course making me an accredited matchmaker of the Association of British Introduction Agencies.’
Jacqui, who is originally from Ireland but moved to Hampshire after her relationship broke down, previously worked in corporate events and missed the buzz of organising successful events.
Now she says she is delighted to be helping mature singles connect, especially during the pandemic, when all traditional face to face events have been cancelled.
She has set up free online groups, which have evolved from just a drink and a chat to Murder Mystery events with live actors, team challenges, support evenings for lonely singles, support for men post separation, book club evenings and live art lessons.
And she has even started Zoom dating herself – her first proper date in three years.
She said: ‘It’s just getting people to try it. Instead of sitting there looking at the four walls or watching the telly, they can have a drink, relax and have a chat. Once they try it, I get so many people saying they wish they had done it sooner.
‘Over the festive season I delivered free Zoom parties, gave support for those alone and even held a New Year Eve Zoom party for singles and all for free.
‘I hope my story is a heartening story for all those lonely singles who are struggling through lockdown alone. I still have children living at home but I hear many stories from my members who are struggling through this pandemic and this is my reason for delivering so many free events.’
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