Margaret Peacock tells us how she transformed her life with internet dating
I realised after several years of widowhood that I could not continue living my life through my younger daughter, who lived nearby with her family, although they always included me in their activities and holidays.
A chance conversation with someone at work gave me the idea of maybe finding a dating agency on the internet without the stress of joining a conventional 'marriage bureau'. I was already fairly used to the internet since I used it for work and had recently brought my own PC for home use.
I found a few free dating sites and posted my profile, although I was not technically competent enough to add a photograph. Initially I corresponded with several men, which mostly fizzled out due to location and incompatibility, as this soon became apparent by exchanging details and messages etc.
I met only one of these men who seemed suitable, though he wanted a photograph before committing himself to a date. He was very self absorbed and after a couple of dates he found someone else to pester!
I nearly gave up then but there was a touch of excitement in just corresponding with others in a similar situation. I pressed on and wrote a message one day, during an idle moment at work, to someone whose profile I had skipped over several times before. His location seemed to be okay, although his profile certainly did not leap out at me.
I had a quick response, however as I was just going away on two weeks holiday did not hold out for any further correspondence. I later learnt that Barry had dated three others during this time.
On my return I had a nice message from him and from then on we had a frequent correspondence once or twice a day over about three weeks, during which time we got to know details of each others families, lives etc. We seemed to have quite a lot in common, as well as both being widowed in similar circumstances, which we were able to discuss freely, however I was a little disturbed that his wife had died fairly recently.
We eventually arranged to meet one afternoon at a hotel mid distance between us. I was extremely nervous and very, very reluctant to meet - far safer to correspond, but I felt I had got into this situation so had to conclude it.
Well, neither of us had a photograph, so appearance was obviously not an issue. I knew from one telephone call and our many messages that Barry was a really nice chap and had no worries about safety - my younger daughter knew where I was going, although she was not very approving.
Our afternoon tea date was a success and it stretched into a long walk, and later dinner - Barry was very good at putting me at ease and I felt we had known each other for years.
Over the next few weeks we met, talked, e-mailed, spent weekends together and generally got to know and love each other.
About eight months after our meeting, Barry moved in with me and I retired from my job (Barry had taken early retirement in 1999) and we have been together 24/7 since.
We got engaged during the following year - by this time with the approval and acceptance of our five children and nine grandchildren.
We had already booked to go on a 'round the world ' trip. It so happened that after six weeks away, we ended our holiday in Las Vegas and it was such a tempting idea that we decided to get married there and then.
Quick phone calls home to run it past the families and all was arranged and sorted within 24 hours. We returned home, a day or so later, as man and wife.
We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have met and are really grateful to the internet dating site we used, without which we would never have found each other.