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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

From speed dating to getting on your bike… five ways to rediscover romance in your 50s and beyond

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For the older person, meeting that special someone can provide a range of benefits – from tackling loneliness to easing physical ailments.

According to a wealth of data, the positive spin-offs of a romantic relationship can help with a variety of illnesses from depression to heart disease. Research also shows that single people in later life are 20 per cent more likely to die earlier than the average for their age group.

But statistics also show that the number of single, older Britons is higher than ever, with more than three million living alone following the death of a partner. Researchers also predict that so-called ‘grey divorces’ will triple by 2030.

Over the past two weeks, The Mail on Sunday has brought you a series of creative and fun ways to beat loneliness, as part of our partnership with charity Age UK.

For the older person, meeting that special someone can provide a range of benefits – from tackling loneliness to easing physical ailments (stock photo)

This week, we offer help to those who may be looking for a little more than friendship.

From cookery classes to ghost tours, we’ve scoured the UK for groups and events that specialise in connecting older singletons.

MURDER, MYSTERY… AND MATCHMAKING

WHAT IS IT?

RSVP is a service across England, Wales and Scotland offering fine-dining, black-tie balls, party nights, walks and weekends away to single people, mainly over 50.

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From relaxed Sunday lunches to murder mystery evenings, RSVP holds a variety of singles events at least once a month. The experienced matchmaking team also runs a dating service where members are connected based on interests – with no need to trawl through lots of dating profiles.

‘At our events, you’ll always find friendly hosts to make introductions and take nervous guests under their wing,’ says Karen Harvie of RSVP. ‘Some people are dating again after divorce or bereavement and I’ve seen their confidence flourish. There’s always fun, laughter and chatting.’

SIGN ME UP!

Visit rsvp-int.co.uk. Membership costs a one-off payment of £745 and then £32.99 per month.

YOU’RE NEVER TOO OLD FOR SPEED DATING

WHAT IS IT?

Date In A Dash organises weekly speed dating events at hotels, clubs and restaurants in London and, as of January, in Bristol, Brighton, Manchester and Birmingham.

Date In A Dash organises weekly speed dating events at hotels, clubs and restaurants in London and, as of January, in Bristol, Brighton, Manchester and Birmingham (stock photo)

Date In A Dash organises weekly speed dating events at hotels, clubs and restaurants in London and, as of January, in Bristol, Brighton, Manchester and Birmingham (stock photo)

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Events are organised into age ranges, including 40 to 60, where participants enjoy five-minute mini-dates with the members of the opposite sex.

Sessions last two hours and women sit at a designated table, with men moving between them. The daters then note who they are keen to see again. Results are emailed to participants, and at least 80 per cent score a ‘match’.

Managing director Rob Ryall says: ‘People often mingle in the bar afterwards or stay for a drink.’

SIGN ME UP!

Visit dateinadash.com. Events cost between £15 and £20.

SADDLE UP AND FIND LOVE ON A BIKE RIDE

WHAT IS IT?

Stitch is an online community for over-50s promoting friendships and romance through shared interests.

The not-for-profit platform encourages users to organise hobby-based activities between themselves – and advertises them on the site.

Stitch is an online community for over-50s promoting friendships and romance through shared interests. People can then search via their own hobbies to find a match – with interests ranging from long cycle rides (stock photo) to fine-dining and ethics lectures

Stitch is an online community for over-50s promoting friendships and romance through shared interests. People can then search via their own hobbies to find a match – with interests ranging from long cycle rides (stock photo) to fine-dining and ethics lectures

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Members are invited to create an online profile where they can add interests and a photo and say if they are looking for romance.

People can then search via their own hobbies to find a match – with interests ranging from long cycle rides to fine-dining and ethics lectures. Members can either message a person who takes their fancy or sign up for one of the hundreds of nationwide events.

‘The site allows you to see the profiles of other people attending an event, so you might want to go if you like the look of someone,’ says founder Andrew Dowling.

SIGN ME UP!

Visit stitch.net. Lifetime membership is free.

IT’S ALL KOSHER AT DATE ON A PLATE

WHAT IS IT?

Date On A Plate hosts cookery lessons – followed by a three-course champagne dinner – for Jewish singletons, mostly aged over 50, in North-West London.

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Chef Denise Phillips holds the Kosher dining events on Sunday evenings at her home. The main food elements are prepared beforehand and singletons carry out basic tasks, such as stirring sauces and chopping onions.

When the hour-long cookery class is up, diners go to an adjacent candlelit dining room for the meal.

After each course, the men swap seats to sit next to a different woman and at the end of the evening Denise shares everyone’s email addresses.

One couple who owe their romantic bliss to Date On A Plate are Allan and Paula Messing. The pair, aged 67 and 65, have recently returned from their Mauritius honeymoon – a decade after meeting at one of the dining events.

‘You could judge the chemistry over dinner, and I knew I was attracted to Allan,’ says Paula. ‘He was intelligent and not arrogant.’

Allan describes his foray into online dating before meeting Paula as ‘disastrous’. He says: ‘My faith and culture are very important to me and I wanted to find someone who shared those things. It’s very hard to find that person online.

‘I thought she [Paula] had such a lovely way about her, and I was right. She puts people at ease.’

SIGN ME UP!

Visit jewishcookery.com. Costs £75 for the lesson, dinner, an arrival cocktail and unlimited wine.

SHARE A DANCE AT A QUEEN GIG

WHAT IS IT?

Spice Social organises group events across the UK, attended by up to 100 singles, mainly over 50 – from ghost tours to weekends away.

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Rather than create a dating profile, users enter their postcode on the website and search for events nearby. They can also use the web chat to ask the organisers any questions they may have.

Smaller events, such as Christmas dinners at a pub or a Queen tribute concert, are priced at roughly £25 to £30 and attended by up to 50 guests. Larger ones, like an all-inclusive weekend of culture and walking in Dumfries, cost about £150 to £200.

‘I’ve been to so many weddings where the couple met at our events,’ says Spice Social Scotland co-ordinator Jamie Morris. ‘Romance comes naturally when we bring people together to enjoy themselves.’

SIGN ME UP!

Visit spiceuk.com. Members pay £99 a year to meet, with no pressure to find romance.

MoS praised as readers join phone friend army

Age UK has issued heartfelt thanks to generous readers of The Mail on Sunday who are tackling loneliness by volunteering for the charity’s Telephone Friendship Service.

Last month we launched a campaign to encourage 1,000 readers to sign up to the scheme – which involves a weekly phone chat with an older, lonely person. Since then, sign-ups have surged by 73 per cent, with 249 readers joining within four days of the launch.

‘I’d like to thank the readers for all their support,’ said Alasdair Stewart, Director of National Services at Age UK.

‘Thanks to The Mail on Sunday’s call for volunteers, we have received lots of new applications from readers willing to give their time to support older people.

‘But there’s still work to be done. As the festive season looms and costs continue to rise, times will get even tougher for the older population.’

Recruits are interviewed and undergo quick online training before being matched with an older person. Calls are routed through a switchboard, no contact details are exchanged and only first names are used.



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