How to speed up your love life

Jacqui leaves John Lewis for Ecclesall Road by Taxi
Jacqui leaves John Lewis for Ecclesall Road by Taxi

YOU’RE a free agent, Valentine’s Day is looming, and you haven’t been on a date in eight years – so what do you do?

Cram as many into one night as possible, of course.

Jacqui and Jon on their date at Napoleon's

Jacqui and Jon on their date at Napoleon's

That was the ethos adopted by single mum Jacqui Dundas when faced with another February 14 on her own.

The 35-year-old, from Handsworth in Sheffield, embarked on a night speed-dating with a difference after the city’s Single Social club joined forces with Mercury Taxis to find a love match ahead of the most romantic day of the year.

They lined up three eligible bachelors at three nightspots on Ecclesall Road, along with Jacqui’s very own cab to whisk her to each venue.

The social worker had just 25 minutes with each man and, after the final date, she had to choose just one to share a romantic meal with.

Jacqui and Colin on Valentine's speed-dating

Jacqui and Colin on Valentine's speed-dating

Jacqui said: “I’ve been single for about 20 months, but I was married before that. I don’t get to go on dates much so I thought I might as well go for it.”

The mother-of-two’s night began with a makeover at Sheffield’s John Lewis store, followed by a lowdown on the dos and don’ts of dating from aptly-named lifestyle coach Nicky Valantine, after which her cab arrived to begin her journey.

First up was businessman Nick Gledhill, aged 42, at Graze Inn.

Jacqui said: “I was nervous but it went really well. He was really chatty but we didn’t have much in common – he’s a fitness fanatic.”

Nick added: “I have been single for about six months. I’ve never done anything like it before, but I always try to go out of my comfort zone. It was very relaxed and comfortable.”

Then the taxi arrived and Jacqui went on to Nonna’s restaurant, where she was greeted by Colin Homer, 36.

The pair got on well and ‘had a laugh’ but differences meant romance did not blossom.

But it was the final date with Jon Middlebrook, 45, a supply teacher from Sheffield, which provided the spark needed.

Jacqui said: “I enjoyed my date with each one but Jon and I seemed to have more in common. I’m quite nosy so I asked lots of questions. I’m rubbish at reading people, though.”

When it came to the crunch, she picked Jon to share a meal at Napoleon’s Casino.

Jon said: “I was a bit nervous about speed dating at first, but it was a very nice way to sit and have a chat with someone for 20 minutes. And it was very nice to be picked.”

The pair swapped numbers and hope to see each other again soon – and, more importantly, the experience has allowed Jacqui to greet this Valentine’s Day with positivity, rather than dread.

She said: “It was just nice to get out and feel a bit special for one night.”