Couple to follow first coup by reuniting colleagues

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The Independent Online

Flushed with their success in reuniting old schoolfriends, the couple who set up the website are planning to do the same for former work colleagues.

Steve and Julie Pankhurst, who started the website as a hobby, confirmed yesterday that they hoped to have ColleaguesReunited running by next month.

Mr Pankhurst said: "It will be run in the same way as the schools one where you would look up your work place and the year to find former colleagues. I think it will work quite well. In some way it will be more exciting as often better friendships are forged in your working life."

The original website, run from the couple's spare bedroom, began just over a year ago and grew rapidly through word of mouth. Nearly four million people have registered as members. For an annual fee of £5, e-mails can be sent to anyone listed on the site.

"We have heard of a marriage and an expected baby for a couple who met through the site. Members of families have been reunited and there have been many engagements," Mr Pankhurst said. He said he planned to have a meeting with the site's developers soon to discuss the new plans.

Mrs Pankhurst, a computer programmer, thought of the idea when she was pregnant two years ago and began wondering about whether her former schoolfriends had families of their own.

Having discussed the idea with her husband, a software consultant, he wrote the programme last summer. They went live the following month.

Today, the website is one of the top 20 in Britain. The couple employ 15 people, have a call centre to handle e-mails and are developing a television show based on the concept.