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Born in Farnborough, Kent, in 1924, Stella Flanders, as she was then, initially trained as a nurse.
Then, aged 24, she married Ernest Groschel, a Czech engineer 13 years older who had come to Britain to escape the war.
"The fact that my friend had gone to a marriage bureau all those years ago had really stuck in my head," she recalls. "I couldn't help thinking that I could make a success of my own matchmaking service.
I thought at least given my experience, I might be able to help other people."And so on a hot July afternoon in 1962, Stella travelled by train to London to register the name of the Kathleen Kent Marriage Bureau with Companies House.
"I found her someone and she married shortly afterwards," she recalls.
In the process, her work has become a fascinating barometer of social change: when Stella first started her agency in the early Sixties, newspapers refused to carry her adverts for fear of causing a scandal.
But some things remain comfortingly constant, among them people's expectations - which are, she says, on the whole, generally unrealistic.
In almost half a century of romantic busybodying, nearly 20,000 people have passed through her books - from Bluebell girls and businessmen to beauty queens and barristers.
There have been hundreds of weddings and, today, in a world of speeddating and internet romance, she still has around 400 clients of all ages hoping Stella's personal touch can help find them their Mr or Miss Right.
When a young Stella Groschel heard of her friend's plans to join a marriage bureau in her search for a husband, she was shocked to the core. I thought it was rather on the dangerous side and something that only really desperate, peculiar people would consider." Since then, however, Stella has learned to see matters from the other side.