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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.
"I introduced him to someone and now they're very happily married, too." Most people, she says, have a firm idea of what they want, and Stella endeavours to deliver.
"She later came to a party for the 25th anniversary of the agency and asked if I could sign her on again because she was now divorced. There were no average types." Soon, Stella had converted a bedroom of the family home from which to run her office.
I had to decline as she was now in her late 60s and I didn't think I could help her."As the business grew in the Sixties, there were no shortage of applications. "I employed a mother's help to look after Emma, alongside a secretary, a cleaner and a housekeeper," she recalls.
It is the ordinary folk, however, of whom she is most proud, and whose thank-you letters she treasures.Like the one from the widow with three children who came to see her despairing that she would find love again."She had watched her husband being swept out to sea and drowned, and had been devastated by it," Stella recalls. "I put her together with a local widower who had five children of his own and feared no woman would want to take him on.In the process, her work has become a fascinating barometer of social change: when Stella first started her agency in the early Sixties, newspapers refused to carry her adverts for fear of causing a scandal.But some things remain comfortingly constant, among them people's expectations - which are, she says, on the whole, generally unrealistic.