Heart Searching: The Agencies: You are thinking of joining an introduction agency - but which one? Naomi Coleman presents some facts and figures

CANDLEBURNERS

105 Moore Park Road, London SW6 2DA; 071-371 5535

Established 1990.

Catering for

Professional, successful, attractive people aged between 24 and 48 (women), 28 and 60 (men).

Fees

Full annual membership pounds 650 plus VAT (discount of pounds 100 if register at first meeting); includes honorary membership of Enchanted Evenings ( pounds 200 plus VAT).

Area served

London and Southern England but open to anywhere in the country.

How many people on books

420.

Ratio of women to men

50:50.

A selective register is maintained by method of pre-membership consultation. Potential partners are hand picked. Minimum of five meetings are guaranteed in a year and regular social events are run through Enchanted Evenings.

COMPANIONS

1 Northumberland Avenue, London WC2; 071-930 4242/0800 140800

Established 1992.

Catering for

All professionals, all age groups.

Fees

From pounds 700 to pounds 1,200 plus VAT for an average of 14 introductions with no time limit.

Area served

London, Croydon and expanding.

How many people on books

930.

Personal two-hour interviews, with psychometric testing, are held. Profiles are put through a computer which selects a panel of possible suitors which in turn are hand matched. A customer services department ensures constant contact with clients.

COMPANY

5 Sherwood Street, London W1V 7RA; 071-437 0423

Established 1976.

Catering for

Educated, professional people

Fees

pounds 195 including VAT for full annual membership. Party-only membership costs pounds 65 including VAT. Parties cost pounds 10 per evening.

Area served

Greater London, South-east England

How many people on books

100.

A free consultation and interview for potential members is offered on a selective membership basis. Unlimited introductions are available throughout the membership. Members are hand chosen and are invited to monthly functions with particular attention to the balance of the sexes in mind. Membership can be put on hold for six months during the year.

DATELINE

23 Abingdon Road, London W8 6AL; 071-938 1011

Established 1966.

Catering for

Cross-section of people of all ages.

Fees

Annual standard membership fee pounds 150; annual gold membership fee pounds 450.

Area served

Nationwide.

How many people on books

Approximately 38,000.

Ratio of women to men

52:48.

Standard members complete a multiple-choice questionnaire which is added to a centralised computer. Members request a list compiled of up to six names as often as they wish and can make appointments at any time. Each re-run costs pounds 5 administration fee. Gold members are asked additional questions and are personally interviewed.

DRAWING DOWN THE

MOON

7-11 Kensington High Street, London W8 5NP; 071-937 8880/

071-411 3111

Established 1984.

Catering for

Mainly graduates, or similar, from the business, creative and professional world.

Fees

Annual full membership pounds 625 plus VAT; pounds 100 discount if you join at first interview. Extra year 'on hold' for no extra charge; renewal pounds 200 plus VAT.

Area served

Mainly London and South-east but expanding nationwide.

How many people on books

800, slightly more women than men.

All clients are interviewed on a selective membership basis. Prospective partners are chosen through profiles and photographs. Personal contact through the bureau is greatly emphasised and all members are invited to a monthly social evening.

THE ENGLISH ROSE/

ENGLISH CONNECTION

Suite 2, 24 Cecil Square, Margate, Kent CT9 1BA; 0843 290735

Founded 1982.

Catering for

Specifically, English ladies interested in American men and vice versa. But generally professional people.

Fees

pounds 300 including VAT annual full-time membership.

Area served

Aimed at UK, USA.

How many people on books

7,000.

Ratio of women to men

Evenly distributed.

Men are vetted by staff and a minimum of five introductions are guaranteed. Individual profiles and photographs are carefully studied and selected in order to suit individual specifications.

HEDI FISHER

45-46 Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8AJ; 071-267 6066/071-485 2916

Established 1968.

Catering for

Professional, attractive, reliable people with high standards from the age of 30 upwards.

Fees

pounds 225 for a year; pounds 25 interview fee.

Area served

London, Home Counties and North.

Ratio of women to men

Caters to achieve a balance.

After a personal interview, an introduction is selected using carefully prepared profiles - not using computers. Feedback is very much encouraged to serve as guidelines for more introductions. Number of introductions are specified on registration. Weekend and evening interviews are available.

HELEN HILL BUREAU

319 Glossop Road, Sheffield S10 2HP; 0742 722455

Established 1956.

Catering for

People who are legally free to marry.

Fees

pounds 160 including VAT for year.

Area served

Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire.

Ratio of women to men

Tailored to achieve balance.

A method of individually selecting partners to fit the client's requirements is used. Emphasis on personal contact is encouraged. A minimum of eight introductions is guaranteed.

KATHARINE ALLEN

18 Thayer Street, London W1M 5LD; 071-935 3115

Established 1960 (incorporating Heather Jenner, established 1939)

Catering for

Educated and professional people from 25 to 80 years old.

Fees

pounds 14 for first non-committal interview. If registered, pounds 385 plus VAT; pounds 100 per year thereafter; pounds 200 fee if members marry/cohabit with partner met through bureau.

Area served

South England-based, though not restrictive.

How many people on books?

1,000.

Ratio of women to men?

60 per cent women, 40 per cent men, but varies with age groups.

Thorough interviews are held with a view to a selective membership. Introductions (without the use of photographs) are only made with the consent of both parties. Personal attention is encouraged and maintained throughout membership. Number of introductions is not guaranteed, as this varies considerably according to the individual.

LOVEMATCH

Prospect House, Aldreth Road, Haddenham, Ely, Cambs CB6 3PW; 0353 740358

Established 1985

Catering for

All age groups; all walks of life.

Fees

Six-month membership pounds 112.50 including VAT or one-year membership pounds 197.50 including VAT. Other membership categories from pounds 37.50.

Area served

England, Scotland and Wales and overseas.

How many people on books

700-800.

Ratio of women to men

Varies, but tries to balance similar age groups.

Consultations are held by telephone but personal interviews (at no extra charge) are available but not required. Every questionnaire is analysed individually and details are not data- based. Members can request as many meetings as they wish.

PERFECT PARTNERS

St Martin's Lodge, 257 Black Bull Lane, Fulwood, Preston, PR2 4YD; 0772 718991

Established 1990.

Catering for

Standard register is for single, separated, divorced or widowed people between 20 and 70. Executive register for people with good social standing.

Fees

Standard annual registration pounds 85. First introduction pounds 10 and thereafter pounds 5. Executive register pounds 250 and an extra pounds 10 for all arranged introductions.

Area served

Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Merseyside.

How many people on books

800-900.

Ratio of women to men

60 per cent female, 40 per cent men. More men under 30; more women over 50.

An in-depth interview enables a file to be prepared and sent off to potential suitors. Details of possible partners are chosen and sent out to each other.

PERSONAL TOUCH

Macmillan House, 96 Kensington High Street, London W8 4SG; 071- 915 0115/0117

Established 1992

Catering for

From 27 to 60-plus. Cross section of people from avant garde to the professional world, chosen to fit in with the nature of the membership list.

Fees

3 flexible membership programmes: 10 introductions costs pounds 595 plus VAT; 15 costs pounds 695; 20 costs pounds 795 membership. No time limit.

Areas served

London and Home Counties.

How many people on books

800 active members.

Ratio of women to men

Ratio balanced until 50-60 age group.

Clients receive an individual service encouraging feedback and agency contact. After an initial in-depth interview, potential partners are hand matched by an experienced team.

THE PICTURE DATING

AGENCY

29 Villiers Street

London WC2N 6ND; 071-839 8884/081-297 1424

Established 1990

Catering for

Professional, business, intelligent creative people from 18 to 70.

Fees

Gold service pounds 130 including VAT; standard service pounds 55 including VAT; pounds 5 for each additional list.

Area served

London, South-east England.

How many people on books

1,900.

Ratio of women to men

Overall 50:50; depends on age groups.

A standard member is matched with five compatible people, selected from application forms and pictures. A gold member is interviewed with a consultant and on joining his/her profile is passed on to selected people. Members are welcome to visit and make selections as often as they wish. Parties are held for all members every 4 to 6 weeks ( pounds 6.50 to pounds 12.50 per evening).

SARA EDEN

Eden House, 38 Thames Street, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 1PR; 0753 830350

Established 1988.

Catering for

Mainly professional people from mid- 20s to mid-40s (women) and to mid- 60s (men).

Fees

pounds 500 annual membership; unlimited introductions.

Area served

London and Home Counties, but also beyond.

How many people on books

1,800 to 2,000.

Ratio of women to men

50:50.

Information packs are sent out and everyone personally interviewed. Computers are not used; a profile is formatted, photographs are shown and clients given an initial selection of between six and ten (but this is unlimited). Copies of profiles are sent out to chosen people, then phone numbers are passed on. Members encouraged to keep in contact on a regular basis.

SIRIUS

London: 071-256 6123; Manchester: 0625 860924; Edinburgh: 031-225 3606

Founded 1992.

Catering for

Intelligent and creative people from 25 to 60.

Fees

pounds 498 plus VAT annual full-time membership.

Area served

Nationwide.

How many people on books

1,500: up to 30 years more men; between ages 30-40 equal; above 40 years more women, which increases with age.

Meetings with each member are held in their own home with interviewers based over the whole country. Detailed profile descriptions are prepared and if both parties want to go ahead, numbers are exchanged. At least six introductions are guaranteed to younger members but there are no limits.

VIRGINIA CHARLES

April House, Shilton, Oxfordshire OX18 4AB; 0993 840888

Established 1992

Catering for

People with integrity, traditional values and quality.

Fees

pounds 575 including VAT annual full-time membership.

Area served

Nationwide.

Ratio of women to men

Overall even.

A tailor-made service, exclusive and selective of its members. Interviews are held by full-time staff who maintain personal contact, care and attention to each individual. Partners are hand picked, guaranteeing at least six introductions.

This is a small selection of the hundreds of introduction agencies, national and local, in Britain. Details of more agencies will be included from time to time on the Heart Searching page. Information was believed correct at the time of going to press; for full details contact agencies direct.

Heart Searching next week:

more readers' letters

(Photograph omitted)

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