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Katharine Gray – friendfirst Director wins Business Award – March 2012

Katharine Gray – friendfirst Director wins Business Award – March 2012

The Wise Women Awards is an event that celebrates the achievements of Christian Women in the church and wider society and is organised by Wisdom for Women International in association with Keep The Faith magazine. The spectacular award ceremony took place on March 17th, 2012 at the London Hilton Paddington Hotel.

Katharine won for the award for her involvement with so many singles’ lives and the resulting successes friendsfirst has had – nearly 200 marriages and many babies born, including triplets, as a result. A short video of the highlights of the evening can be viewed here. You can see more pictures on our facebook page and read the blog account of the evening here. A video done by the organisers of the event can be viewedhere.

Katharine was completley overwhelmed as the winner of the Business Category award was announced and took to the stage to receive the award amidst much applause. There was much laughter as she explained how her enthusiam for marrying people off had not declined in the 12 years of running friendsfirst.

She thinks she also won the award because her faith has always been at the heart of the business and has shaped how she has run it. She is committed to furthering God’s Kingdom, and her belief is that if Christians aren’t given the opportunity to meet other Christians they risk meeting and marrying non-Christians – with consequential falling away from the faith. Even though she got married myself four and a half years ago, her commitment to single people has not wavered.

Two new Membership Managers joins the team. February 2012

We were very sad to say Goodbye to Dawn who’d joined us back in January 2010 as she headed off to pastures new – primarily to follow her passion in flower arranging. Having been constantly telling our members to follow their hearts Dawn decided it was time to follow her own advice. A hard act to follow…. but we’ve been delighted to welcome Kay back to the team and welcome Jackie Wardle as a further member to our team. You can read more about them both here.

BBC Radio 4 profiles friendsfirst – St. Valentine’s Day 2010

BBC Radio 4 on their Sunday programme on 14th February 21010 did a feature on ‘faith and dating’ by Trevor Barnes. friendsfirst was profiled with various comments from Director Katharine and starring Stephanie – one of our members who married through us 2 years ago.Click here for the iplayer link (only live until 20th February 2010). It was a busy morning as Katharine was also doing Radio  interviews with Radio Kent (featuring Brian who married Ruth) and Radio WM.

7 Deadly Relationship Sins

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Find out here

“friendsfirst should be proud of their reputation of being a very caring Christian organisation.”

(Mark – North Wales survey)

Thank you for your courtesy calls regarding my membership with you. I am pleased with my profile and look forward to my membership start at the beginning of July!

(Clair 42 Teacher)

“Please renew my membership. I realise I should have applied myself more to your suggestions”

(Dean 39 Civil servant)

The following feedback has been collected from anonymous surveys conducted with members in 2012. They were asked: What difference did our advice, support and encouragment make in helping you make new friends?

(anonymous)

“Good-afternoon Katherine and thanks very-much for both your lovely-email and that relationships’-newsletter you’ve sent me too Your Relationships-Newsletter IS VERY-GREAT-READING” .

(Leandro )

“Thanks very much Jackie, you were really helpful and encouraging and I’ll be in touch again soon, Best wishes Lynne”

(Lynne 48 enquirer)

Thanks for all your encouragement, Katharine! I am just waiting for the cash to get started! Shouldn’t be too much longer now. You are probably right in that I am over thinking it – i guess I feel my age is against me – 56- although I am much younger in a million ways! You, and our site seem to speak the most sense I have come across in the singles field so I  know you will guide me well!

(Hanul)

‘Firstly, thank you for your advice over the phone on Friday and for all you are doing to match me with appropriate people. I really appreciate all your hard work.  Your passion and enthusiasm for your job were obvious, and I felt very encouraged after our conversation’.

(Jill 64 Dr)

“Really wonderful news letter, I enjoyed reading it very much”

(Ron 84 Retired)

“The newsletter has inspired me to go and get some professional photos taken, I was really impressed with it”

(John 59 new member Newcastle upon)

“Thank you for all you do behind the scenes to make connections between people.  May God continue to bless you as you seek to bless others though this ministry.”

(Heather 55 tutor)

“I got lots of help with my membership when I joined and I was very happy – I’m going to rejoin”

(Kim )

“The news letter is great, I’ve enjoyed reading it, It was nice to see everyone’s photos”

( Oakley 72)

Your full engagement, encouragement and range of ideas to help me in this area of my life are massively appreciated. I led a bible study on Thursday from John Ortberg, “Build Community” about ” Balcony People” – those people in your life who cheer for you and encourage you…Barnabas being the example and you are on of those Balcony People for me.

(Adrian)

“My experience of meeting people through friendsfirst was part of my journey of discovery – of myself and the sort of man I was looking for. Thank you for your support in the past.”

(Emma 44 teacher)

“Thank you again, Katharine…Your helpful input is appreciated”.

(David Dumfrieshire)

“I really want to use this opportunity to thank you and your hardworking team Sarah and Jackie and any other member of your staff.  I attended your dinner at Covent Garden last December and I really enjoyed it. I’d like to take a break due to financial reasons and I appreciate the help and support you gave me.”

(Chika Brown 41 divorced)

“Thank you for your support – your service has been really good and what you are doing is wonderful”

(Joanne 39 single specialist community nurse)

” Gave reassurance that I was taking the right approach”

Anon

Dear Katharine  Thank you for asking for feedback. I have only just joined Friends First & so have not yet been able to make full use of everything that is available, particularly as its been v busy at work. I filled in the questionnaire & wanted to add some comments. I appreciate:- the potential to be able to ring & talk through things with someone- some of the literature has provided quick to read handy hints re dating- the ethos of Friends First encourages respectful treatment of people.- not having to scan on a photo of myself- I’m not v technical.

(Carol )

I was widowed 2yrs 3mnths ago and felt my life had ended, it was the worst pain that I have ever experienced, for 12 months I hid away from life, then I turned to God rather than away from him and just held on tight, then gradually over the last year I have, moved house -70miles away from where I used to live – , joined a new church, I have made new friends, and have begun to feel life flowing through me again ……………It was while I was out with friends one eve I was asked for my number by a guy (I declined to give it) but it made me realise that I was ready to meet someone but I know I only want to be with a man who loves God first. I knew I didn’t want to do anything like online dating as I had heard of so many horror stories, so It got me thinking  about how I could meet like minded people, so I just tapped in Christian friendships and friends first popped up ! I read everything I could about the organisation and liked what I found, after a few weeks I decided to  join, since joining I haven’t actually spoken to anybody yet but that was because I missed the call, but I have had encouraging  emails and endless offers of help and support, I have complete peace about my decision and am looking forward to meeting and making new friends with the help of God and friends first.

(Carol 62 Oakham)

“Without one to one support I wouldn’t attempt doing this through an agency – for me it’s a must. I’m impressed with what you advise and thank you for being so friendly.”

(Dorothy 84 retired pharmacist)

“Dear Katharine, I have been meaning to contact you for some time and your recent email prompted me. I joined Friends1st a couple of years ago and although I didn’t have any success in contacting anyone, a conversation we had really made me stop and think. You telephoned me to encourage me to be more open-minded and suggested that I had put barriers up so that I was not going to meet anyone, even if they were queuing up on my doorstep! Although a little dismissive of your views at the time – I am a teacher and not great at taking criticism, however gentle! – God kept bringing me back to reflecting on what you had said. I began to acknowledge that you were right and that insight opened up a door. I confess that I didn’t go back to your agency but joined another one for a short period. I wanted to try out my ‘new’ approach quickly before retreating back into old habits. I met Jon, from Brentwood, within the first few weeks. We emailed for a time, spoke on the phone for a few weeks and finally met. There was no instant physical attraction on my part but I already knew that he was a really lovely man. We had both prayed before even going on the website and had each committed our search to God, whose love has been at the heart of our growing relationship. I am delighted to tell you that now, eighteen months later, Jon and I are to be married on October 12th. All the practical difficulties of distance, jobs, church lives have melted away. I want to thank you Katharine, for your wise words. Although your organisation did not work for me, your advice did. It made me look long and hard at myself and at the legacy of previous failed relationships. With God’s help I have been able to start afresh.  I watched the Panorama programme about online dating and was horrified by what they uncovered. Jon and I will always be aware of the difficulties facing single people and hope to have opportunities to support them as we have been supported. With my grateful thanks and best wishes for your continued success.

(Cathy divorced 57 teacher)

“Hi Dawn, Thanks for all your encouragement.”

(Pam 55 Divorced Teacher)

“It’s so lovely talking to the staff in your office. They’ve all been really helpful and so encouraging.”

(Fionna 76 Civil Servant)

The staff are all lovely and supportive – I really enjoy talking to them

(James 48 Bantry)

“I’m very satisfied with the Friends First service”

(Harry 52 Student)

What a well worded letter. I have spent all my working life in writing and I know how to write a letter that compels people to respond.

(Peter 79 separated)

I came home to find my FF folder in the post. Thank you. I’ve read through the literature and wanted to tell you how helpful it was!

(Cathryn 55 Divorced)

‘Congratulations to you and the team on your Cloudnine newsletter, I think it’s wonderful!!’

(Richard 60 single)

“Thanks for Cloud Nine Magazine, a very good magazine “healing a discouraged heart”

(Clare )

I got the direction magazine from church one Sunday and started browsing on it. At the back that’s where I saw the friends1st  advert read it though checked it out online and just left it couple of weeks I just decided to go ahead and join it. I have recently joined and they staff are friendly and you just know you got their full support by the emails they sent. Right now I’m excited to meet someone who share the same faith with me and spent the rest of my life with I would recommend this friends1st to friends  and family who are struggling to meet that one special someone..  God bless

(Tatenda 32 Ealing)

“A friend of mine suggested that I might like to join friends first. She had seen it advertised in a Christian magazine. When people had suggested this kind of thing before I hadn’t been interested. There were too many other things going on in my life and I didn’t like the look of the online dating sites. When my friend told me that this was an off-line agency I started to think about it and decided it would be nice to have some new friends to go out with. I liked the fact that friends first gave members personal support through the process of applying and meeting new people. When I spoke to one of the membership managers, she was very helpful and explained that, because friends first is off line, a higher number of older people join than usual. In the correspondence and on the phone friends first seem to be Friendly! And to understand the reservations that make people hesitate to join a dating agency. Now I am looking forward to  the adventure of contacting new people who I would never meet otherwise.”

(Elizabeth 64 Cumbria)

“I really appreciated the additional support and advice. Your staff were very friendly and supportive and it made my membership more personal, which was good”

(Jeffrey 58 teacher)

Received all information, which may I add seemed very comprehensive and professional.

(Gary 46 separated)

Dawn, thank you for your phone call – it prompted me to take that next step.”

(Dorren 57 Divorced Nurse)

“Thank you for your support over the last 12 months.”

(Diane 57 Divorced Cleaner)

“I love the support that is going on. It is really appreciated.”

(Maura)

“As a retired psycho-therapist who has recently joined Friends First, I would like to congratulate Katharine and her team on the very high standard of the advice on dating in their many publications that one receives as part of the membership package. I think the psychological content is spot on – for example in the Dating Master Classes. The way psychological input is linked to Christian principles is excellent  – helpful and up-lifting! I am also very impressed by Katharine’s personal input in phoning me to help me work through my profiles and encourage me to keep an open mind! God bless you in your work”

(Gillian)

On 1:1with KG: “Thank you for shaking up my cobwebs and how I think. You’ve hit the nail on the head.”

(Dawn single 50)

“I’ve found the 12 dating guides very very informative and very useful so far.”

(Christopher 38 Single Security officer)

Thank you for your help and amazing service. God Bless

(Stephanie 50 single)

“I thought your Sept edition of Cloudnine was very uplifting ” Maria Sanz

(47 Divorced)

“I appreciate your help greatly”

(Pat single 60 legal clerk)

Thank-you so much for being so caring and writing such motivational emails. They have been really helpful to me

(Yvonne)

Dear Katherine Thank you for all your continued kindness and advice. It is all very helpful INDEED. With sincere  thanks

(Matt 26 Wrexham)

“I found contact with your staff encouraging and supportive. Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new. Please find my cheque to renew my membership.”

(Robin 41 single a farmer)

Thank you for the Dating Master class, it is really fantastic, for dating, and even as a life skill, really excellent, thank you.

(Kem 41 Lawyer)

I would like to say though, that your employee (Nick, I believe) with whom I spoke on the telephone last Friday was charming, engaging, understanding, articulate and very easy to talk to. What a great asset you have there in your company. I only wish I could find a man like THAT! So if you reckon you can sort something of that nature for me, then well, maybe we have a deal…

(Enquirer)

Dear team Thank you for your phone call. Your dedication and support already has been overwhelming and encouraging! Thank you! Looking forward to reading your brochure when it arrives and getting back in touch with you with good hopes for the future. Once again thanks.

(Matt 26 Wrexham)

‘First of all, thank you for taking the time to speak with me on Friday afternoon. I found it very helpful.I have done as I promised and watched the ‘How to view a Friends First profile’ on You Tube. I felt it was good, sound, common-sense advice and I think that I have been following it in all ways but one – I have tended to be influenced by each ‘wish list’ so I will try to get over any inhibitions in that area when the next set of profiles arrives’

(Annett)

“Many thanks to Friends First without your help we would never have met.”

(Ann 60)

“you’ve been so encouraging – I really appreciate it”

(Mario 51 Devon)

Jackie, Thank you so much for calling me yesterday.  I really needed to hear those words of encouragement.

(Angela 51 Divorced)

“Knowing you were there to support me through my membership meant I was happy to belong to friendsfirst. The service you give is excellent.”

(Janine 39 Writer)

Nick’s professionalism has shone through so I would like to thank him personally for the service he has  given to me.

(Millicent 45 single)

“Thank you very much for your prompt and friendly call and email. I expect you get  quite a lot of nervous people like me but it was nice that you were so understanding and put me at my ease.”

(Anthony 54 single Software enginner support)

Friends First have been a source of light to me. My daughter is going through a difficult divorce and, thanks you, I am able to be strong for her.

(Jan 84 Retired Pharmacist)

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