They hit it off immediately, moved in together, married, and had a baby of their own, which made nine.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.In fact, despite Stella's unhappiness, the couple remained married for 14 years, during which time Stella fell pregnant, aged 38, with the couple's daughter, Emma.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.Fifty years ago, this woman set up Britain's first modern dating agency and created a giant industry.20,000 lonely hearts later (including her own) her views on the changing mores of romance make fascinating reading.Unable to have children of her own, she believed herself to be no catch at all. "She had such low self-esteem." Stella matched her to a local man who was seen as something of a confirmed bachelor when he joined the bureau. The couple were so enamoured of her matchmaking abilities that just a few years ago, they sent their nephew to see her.
It is the ordinary folk, however, of whom she is most proud, and whose thank-you letters she treasures.We had nothing in common and simply couldn't communicate.I was very young and we'd never spent any proper time together.It had been a heady romance, but once married, Stella regretted the union almost immediately."I knew within a month that I'd made a dreadful mistake.