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Thursday, 14 February, 2002, 09:04 GMT
'My blind date for charity'
Eileen Donnelly
Eileen Donnelly: "I'm not desperate - just dateless"
To make Valentine's Day more fun for singles, the Red Cross is holding the UK's first Desperate and Dateless Ball. Eileen Donnelly, a 29-year-old fundraising manager, explains in our Real Time series why she signed up.

For the past few years I've been dating and it's been an absolute scream. I had been a serial monogamist, so to get a chance to date is really exciting.

How does it work?
Daters fill in a quick questionnaire
They are then computer matched with a blind date
An appeal has gone out for more men
I've taken every opportunity to meet people that has come my way, and this blind date ball is just that. I'm not thinking: 'Oh my God, I have to meet a husband here'. I just think it will be really funny. And if a date comes out of it, fantastic.

I lied about my height on the application form. Because I'm 5 ft 1 in, I would probably have been matched with someone who's 5 ft 6 in - and I really don't like short guys. I'm hoping to be matched with someone taller, someone who's in it for a laugh.

Click here to find out how she got on

My completely nightmare would be being matched with one of the people who really is dateless and desperate. I'm just dateless. And I don't expect to stay with my match all night as I prefer to mingle - getting loads of numbers instead of just one.

Eileen Donnelly
"Dating is dead easy - finding a soul mate is far more difficult"
My first blind date was about eight years ago. I was working for a PR agency, trying to sell a story to a guy at a local radio station.

He wouldn't take it unless I had dinner with him - the story did have something to do with dinner, so it wasn't completely out of the blue.

The thing with radio people is that they tend to have fantastic personalities, so of course I built up a picture of what he might look like. And he was completely the opposite.

The first thing I thought when I walked into the bar was: 'I hope that's not him'. He was quite short and had a fag hanging out of his mouth. I did actually see him for a while because he did have a great personality. But it didn't last very long.

Making a match

The second was about six months ago. Because I've been single for several years, my friends all want to set me up and in this case it was a friend's cousin.

Buzz from Toy Story
Buzz Lightyear: Not a hot prospect
First appearance, absolutely fine - although he did have a slight look of Buzz Lightyear. We got on well but after a while it became obvious that there was nothing else there.

I used to meet people through being out in bars and clubs - people would just start chatting - but now I tend to meet people through work and at friends' dinner parties. That's probably something to do with my age. At 29, I don't go to bars and clubs all the time and instead socialise with my own group.

Love at first sight?
With 1,300+ tickets sold, the Red Cross hopes to set a record for the world's largest blind date
I find it really easy to get dates, it's the bit beyond that's harder. Sometimes they want it, sometimes I do and it doesn't always coincide.

Because I work for a charity - and because I have huge respect for the Red Cross - that's another good reason to go to the ball. Even if it's a disastrous night, it'll be a good story to dine out on - and it's for a good cause.

Real Time gives people a chance to tell their own stories in their own words. If you've got something to say, click here.

Eileen e-mailed us after the ball was over:

Reaction on hearing from him: I wasn't expecting a peroxide blond match, but I thought it would be an interesting date.

Reaction on meeting him: We chatted a little but both of us soon realised that we wouldn't be spending the whole evening together. And I'm glad I lied about my height - he was not much short of 6 ft.

The event: It was a great night, well-organised, well-attended, lots of fun. I talked to many different people, but as I had expected I did not meet my ideal man. Hopefully next year I won't still be "dateless", but if I am, I will definitely go again.

Click here to return

See also:

14 Feb 02 | Science/Nature
13 Feb 02 | Science/Nature
05 Jun 00 | UK
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