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A Very Warm Welcome to the Elect Club As CEO I am delighted you are visiting us today and as always we love to hear from you and learn more about your journey so I welcome you to get in touch. I bought and merged Elect Club with my other businesses in coaching, styling and transformation as well as the infamous Secret Supper Club, which I set up over 20 years ago. I wanted to bring a fresh new approach to dating and matchmaking in the UK and now this is spilling out to International members too.
I felt there was a big gap in the market supporting people post break up or those who were just too busy with work to invest the time needed in finding a real loving relationship. Today’s dating market is constantly changing and the challenges we face with technology and conveyor belt attitudes in dating are all too common. People feel like commodities and expendable which is such a sad thing when we are talking about Love. The way people date today and the challenges we face in today’s society when looking for love are more cumbersome than ever before.
My team and I are passionate in delivering a service that is tailored to your individual needs whether you need a full transformative coaching program and retreat to get you date ready or just getting introduced to people who are right for you with personalised matchmaking. We have a fresh and inviting approach that is always honest and real when it comes to dating. We don’t take on everyone sadly as not all people are ready to date and commit to a loving relationship, so it starts with a conversation to understand where you are and how we can help you.
I look forward to working with you on your dating journey and bringing the fun, excitement and love back into dating. With love
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People often ask why Charlotte Martin hasn't got a boyfriend. She's an attractive 31-year-old from Hungerford in Berkshire with a successful career as a three-day event rider and a busy social diary. "When they ask me why I'm single, I never know how to respond," she says. "It's more acceptable in London.
Here in the country people wonder what's wrong with you. But I'd rather be on my own than with someone who isn't quite right. My friends say that I'll meet someone when I least expect it and I guess I just have to believe them.
Horsey girls aren't that bad really." It shouldn't be difficult to meet a like-minded person in the countryside, given that there is a structured calendar of rural social events, including races and point-to-points.
But according to Patricia Warren, a farmer's wife from Derbyshire who runs the Country Bureau, a rural introduction agency, the country dating scene can be bleak, whatever age you are. "Communities are small and people work long hours," she says. "There are amazing men out there who want a wife and children but feel as if they've been sitting on a tractor for the last 10 years and haven't met anyone." Charlotte, however, is socially proactive.
"I'm not a hermit, I go out all the time. I like having a full itinerary," she says. "I've gone to so many hunt balls this year, I've become a bit of a joke among my friends.
But it's rare to be introduced to a new face and even if I am, the likelihood is that they'll know my friends." For many rural communities, the hunt ball is an annual highlight, organised ostensibly to raise money for the local hunt, but presenting locals with a rare opportunity to dress up and swing each other around on the dance floor.
"I'd never go to one on my own," Charlotte says, "but as long as I have a wingman, I'm fine." If you've been brought up in a country community, the chances are you will already know a lot of the people living locally.
According to Patricia Warren, this can make socialising stale. "You need fresh blood," she says. Two of Charlotte's friends organised a singles party on Valentine's Day and 70 people turned up.
"It was very refreshing to be sat next to two people I didn't know," Charlotte says. "But that kind of event doesn't happen every month; it takes a lot of effort to arrange." Determined to improve the chances of fresh encounters in the countryside, Lucy Reeves, 30, from Northamptonshire, founded rural matchmaking website Muddy Matches with her sister Emma in 2007.
"I grew up in the countryside before moving to London and overseas. When I moved back to the country it occurred to me how hard it is to meet people. As soon as everyone starts to couple up and have children, meeting new people gets harder," she says. Muddy Matches is an online community designed to bring together rural lonely hearts (see below). "The downside of hunt balls and race meets is they can be cliquey," Lucy says. "We organise rural singles' events such as regional pub grub nights, sailing trips and an annual ball." More than 300 people, mainly in their forties and fifties, attended the Mud Lovers ball last year.
"People come from all over the country and there's a seating plan done by area to combat cliquiness," Lucy says. Party-goers stay in nearby hotels and can join a pre-ball activity and a hearty walk the following day. This year's ball in Sywell, Northamptonshire, on May 22 has a "black tie with a muddy twist" dress code.
Tickets for the event cost from £60 and there will be a live band, three-course meal and casino. Traditionally, the under 26- year-olds living in the country met through their local Young Farmers club. The nationwide body of 662 clubs hosts social events throughout the year such as parties and quizzes.
A study by Louise Elliott, a land agent for Savills, suggests that the parents of about half of people in farming communities met via Young Farmers and a quarter were introduced by a farming friend.
Young Farmers is still going strong: Anna Skilbeck, 23, a farm conservation adviser, has been a Young Farmers member since she was 14 and met her boyfriend Jamie at a Young Farmers party. "A lot of people say it's the rural dating agency," she says. "Jamie lives less than eight miles away but I'd never met him. It turned out my parents knew his parents and I was friends with his brother." However, in the past five years, social networking sites have revolutionised rural dating.
"When I think of traditional dating agencies in the countryside, I imagine women in spectacles wearing tweeds and lots of underwear," says Sarah Beeny, founder of dating website My Single Friend. "The internet has opened up a fun and less embarrassing way for people to meet new people in their area." Young country dwellers also organise their social lives on Facebook.
"It's how you hear about hunt balls, Young Farmers meetings and parties, and you can see who is going," says Vittoria Pannizon, 27, who lives in Gloucestershire. She met her boyfriend, Tom, at a hunt ball. "After that we kept bumping into each other and eventually went out for supper in Cirencester." Vicky Cooke, 34, a teacher living in a village near Rugby, met her fiancé, Richard Jones, 33, from Sutton Coldfield, on My Single Friend.
"All my friends are married and starting families, and no one wanted to go out on the pull. You can't blame them," she says. "Richard was the third person I met through My Single Friend. We went for a drink in a pub and just clicked. He proposed to me in a bird hide last summer. I turned around and he was on one knee. I tell as many people as possible about the website now." But the internet can't solve the problem of geography.
"Dating in the country is always a problem due to distances," Mary Balfour says. "You can meet people but the fact you have to drive puts pressure on any date. You need to be relaxed to flirt." In an ideal world, rural dwellers would go on dates in a local town and take a taxi home, she says, but in reality it's not that simple. Driving is an unavoidable part of living in the country and something that people like Vittoria have to accept.
"The fuel bills are horrendous sometimes but at least you can get easily from door-to-door," she says. "In London, it's so stressful; trains get delayed and if you drive, you can't park. It's constant hassle.
Driving to parties in the country became one of my best pulling techniques; everyone wants a lift home." But what's the point of falling in love with someone who lives miles away from your house? Charlotte Martin has found that living where she does, with a rural-focused career, narrows down the field of potential suitors.
"My goals have moved. When I was younger I didn't have so many imaginary boxes to be ticked; I just thought: 'he's quite good looking'," she says. "I went out with a chap in London but eventually I had to decide if I'd move there and I wouldn't.
I've got to find someone with a country mentality. They don't have to be horsey but they've got to be like-minded. I can't see myself pushing a pram around Fulham." Occasionally Charlotte worries that she is being too fussy: "I realise that my equestrian career will be a turn off for some people. This summer I'll be training for the European CIC two-star eventing team, so I come with a bit of a tie. If I'm asked out on a date there's more pressure for it to work, but then I remind myself that I don't want to settle for Mr Second Best." According to Patricia Warren, there are plenty of suitable men for Charlotte, if only they'd come forward.
"Farmers find it particularly hard to meet people," she says. "They're on their farms all day, every day and only ever meet the same people. Often they don't have time to go to all the rural social events because of work." Ben Turner, 29, who owns a farm near Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, agrees that you can get caught in a rut if you live on a farm. "I work long hours and wouldn't expect to meet single girls in the local pub.
Hunt balls and racing are the only things that buck the trend, I suppose," he says. "I'm not actively looking; I'm just getting on with it and having fun, and if someone comes along, that's great." But it's slim pickings: Tom Cooper, a land agent for Buccleuch Estates in Scotland, says that 95 per cent of the people he sees on a day-to-day basis are men. "The farmers' sons stay around but the daughters go to university or cities because there's not much going on for them business-wise." If Louise Elliott's research is anything to go by, farmers shouldn't give up hope.
Her survey showed that 76 per cent of girls born into a farming background hoped to marry a farmer. "Being a farmer's wife is still considered the rural idyll," she says. "Living in the countryside is a good way to raise children, keep horses and animals, and have a good social life." Patricia Warren has a number of farmers on the Country Bureau's books, mainly in their forties and fifties.
David, 46, a farmer from Cumbria, has a "laid-back" attitude and enjoys motoring, sport and wants to travel, while Mark, 50, from Gloucestershire, has an English Language and Literature degree, and enjoys fly fishing holidays on the River Usk, and reading history and poetry. "The Country Bureau suits those who feel uncomfortable with online dating," Warren says.
"There are no faceless communications and unanswered emails. I use the experience I have gained over the years to match people. I take into account age, height, build and occupation before sending out profiles," she says. "A common link between two people is very often found. The one thing I can't detect is whether there is any chemistry." She wishes women wouldn't leave it until their late thirties and early forties. "A lot of the women I speak to are finding they're not meeting their type of person.
They want to have children and live the same rural lifestyle that they did when they were younger. It's often frustrating that they didn't come to me sooner as there are plenty of farmers around." Of course, the last resort for lonely hearts in the country is to move to a more metropolitan area – something Balfour suggests.
But most country folk would rather be alone than live in a town, where dating is a different thing entirely. "In London my friends get dressed up to go out while here it's more casual.
A good hat stops your hair getting blown around if you're outside, but on the whole you can go for a natural look," Vittoria Pannizon says. Archie Hardyment, 26, was surprised by the relaxed social scene he became part of when he moved to a cottage in Oxfordshire after leaving university.
Even though he isn't particularly interested in horses, he has made friends at point-to-points and via the local polo club. "I go for dinner there on Wednesday nights," he says. "I've found it's a more relaxed and low-key social scene than in London. There are fewer people around, but you get to know them better." Lucy Reeves insists that people shouldn't give up on finding love in the country. "It's depressing to think you have to move to a town to meet people," she says.
"It's harder to break into social circles in the countryside but when you do you can make lifelong friends. You've got to consider what you most enjoy doing and get involved." As yet, Archie hasn't found a girlfriend in his village, but he has faith in traditional rural networking. "I like the space and the fact I can go to a pub where I know one person and end up talking to 10," he says.
It's the same for Charlotte Martin: "I can understand why people do internet dating but for now I'm going to keep going the traditional way," she says. "I'll carry on doing what I love, being social, and hope that one day someone amazing comes along." And they will, Warren says – you mustn't give up hope. "There's someone out there for you; but don't sit on the shelf.
That knight in shining armour won't walk down your garden path; you've got to go out and find him." • For more information about Charlotte Martin's competition yard, see • Patricia Warren's book Tales From the Country Matchmaker is published by Hodder • Mary Balfour's book Smart Dating: How to Find Your Man is published by Element Rural dating tips • Meet at a pub (not your local) and make your first date a 20-minute drink, says , to avoid it being too tortuous.
• Taboo conversations on a first date include former relationships and internet dating/ matchmaking agencies. • A hat can make country clothes look more glamorous and do wonders for windblown hair. • Find a wingman. Organise monthly singles gatherings with a friend.
See yourself as an unofficial dating agency. • Waitressing for local catering companies and working in pubs can be a good way of meeting people. • Don't get involved with lengthy flirtations by email or phone. You can talk yourself out of a date. • Don't be bashful. Market yourself to all your friends and do the same for them, if they're single. • Be proactive; you have a higher chance of meeting someone if you do something rather than nothing.
Finding love in the countryside: agencies, websites and social networks • The Country Bureau (). A personal matchmaking agency for rural types run by Patricia Warren. • Muddy Matches (). Social networking site for rural types. • Just Woodland Friends () Walking and friendship for those aged 40 to 70. • My Single Friend (). Sarah Beeny's website enables you to recommend and matchmake your single friends. Or you can get a friend to sign you up.
• Young Farmers () A nationwide body of 662 Young Farmers Clubs in England and Wales dedicated to supporting young people in agriculture and the countryside. • Association of British Introductions Agencies () A search engine for dating agencies, which includes most of Britain's leading agencies. • Facebook (). • Horse Lovers Dating ().
Free online community for horse lovers and single farmers. • Kissing Gates (). Free online community for farmers, horseriders and lovers of country sports. • Countryside Love () For shooting, hunting, farming, equestrian and countryside-loving 18 to 80 year-olds.
Most services are free. The story behind Muddy Matches When Lucy Reeves set up Muddy Matches with her sister Emma in 2007 as a means of connecting country-minded people, she had no idea it would be so successful. "More than 2,000 people are joining each month – we now have more than 40,000 members," she says. "I've shot myself in the foot rather because I'm now single and it would be unethical for me to join it. But we started it for people like me and there have been so many success stories that we've stopped counting the weddings." Single "muddies" of all ages can add their profile to the site, including a photo, search for matches and see if there's any interest in them.
From £10 per month they can send and receive messages. "Everything on Muddy Matches is free until you decide that you like the look of someone and want to contact them," Lucy says. Pub grub nights, country walks and the annual Mud Lovers Ball for rural singles are also advertised on the site. Dan and Sara (pictured below) met at a Muddy Matches pub grub night last year. Current lonely hearts include Simon, 38, from Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, who enjoys long walks ("happiest in casual wear but people say I scrub up well") and Will, 25, from Axminster in Devon, who enjoys hunt balls and going to the beach.
"I grew up on the family farm so quad bikes, cows and three brothers kept me busy," he writes. "I'm equally comfortable in a dinner suit, wetsuit or wellies." Meanwhile, Jonathan, a 62-year-old farmer from Nantwich, Cheshire, enjoys skiing, listening to Katie Melua and dancing to Dire Straits.
"Don't think all farmers drive Land Rovers," he says. "This one has a 4x4 pickup with Martini stickers on it." While Muddy Matches () suits anyone who leads a muddy-boots lifestyle, the sister site FW Muddy Matches is aimed specifically at the farming world.
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