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Last updated on October 3, 2017 | by Aet Suvari


UK Dating Awards Interview

We’ve been advocating for higher standards within the UK dating industry since we started Online Dating Help in 2008.

Last year saw the welcome arrival of the Online Dating Association and this November sees the launch of the very first UK Dating Awards‘Celebrating the best of the British Dating Industry’.

What makes us even happier is that ODH Award Winner Charly Lester is the founder of the awards and we can’t think of a better person to give the UK dating Industry the award show it deserves.

We first connected with Charly through Twitter last year and her funny, honest and surprisingly moving dating blog 30 Dates. For those of you not familiar with the 30 Dates blog or the dating awards we decided to ask Charly some questions to find out more…

First of all could you tell us who the UK Dating Awards are for and how people can get involved?

The Awards are designed to cover the entire Dating Industry – so Dating Websites, Apps, Events, the Media and Individuals – such as Matchmakers & Dating Experts. The whole point is that they are a consumer awards, judging the products and services that we as daters are offered. There are over 30 different categories.

The UKDA is a stand-alone entity, so in order for the Awards to take place, companies have to pay an administrative fee to enter. As such, entrants need to nominate themselves for the various Awards.

UKk Dating Awards

What effect do you hope the UK Dating Awards will have on British Dating?

My aim is for the UKDA to become the Michelin stars of the dating world. An independent body who daters can look to for advice on which services to use, or which events to go to. Dating can be really expensive, and as the Industry is unregulated, anyone can set up a website, or claim to be an expert. I want the Awards to point people in the direction of the right sites and services.

I would love the Awards to be so big in years to come, that by not wanting to get involved, companies are showing that they don’t want to be compared to others. Hopefully by establishing healthy competition, the Industry will only get bigger and better, and the services available to Daters will be enhanced.

Finally I want the Awards Show to be a pinnacle of the dating calendar – a really fun celebration of all the achievements of the UK Dating Industry. The world of dating is so fast-paced, and organic, that things are always changing, and it’s nice to be able to take a step back and appreciate the achievements.

UK Dating Awards

How have your own dating experiences informed your objectives for the dating awards?

Haha, well anyone who has ever read my blog will know I do A LOT of dating. I’ve seen and trialled a full spectrum of services, and that’s why I wanted to have an official way of letting other daters know where to go for advice, without having to trial every site or service going themselves.

I also meet so many singletons thanks to the blog, that I was aware of just how vulnerable people can be when it comes to love … and unfortunately some people are in the Dating Industry to exploit that vulnerability. Hopefully by championing the people who deserve recognition, more daters will rely on the right people and companies for help with their love lives.

Can you tell us a little more about the judges and why you chose them?

I love our judging panel! They are some of the most enthusiastic people I know, when it comes to dating!

The whole point of the panel is to be as impartial as possible, whilst also knowing the Industry. We’ve tried to get a real balance of ages, gender and background, so that everyone is represented. We’ll also be using a number of ‘mystery daters’ at events.

UK Dating Awards Judges

Matt Chappell is a dating writer for Ask Men – I tend to think of him as the male version of me! He’s single and has tried and tested most events, websites and services as part of his job.

Rebecca Perkins is the midlife specialist on the panel. She wrote the book ‘Best Knickers Always‘ about dating in midlife, and she’s great! After her divorce she dated online, and met her partner online, and so she represents a huge section of the dating industry – those who are searching for love, post-marriage.

Avril Mulcahy is our resident Matchmaking expert – she’s one of Ireland’s top matchmakers.

Dr Andrea Kallias is the scientist of the team! She’s a psychologist who specialises in dating and relationships, and has worked as a consultant on several TV shows, and for a number of dating companies.

Purdey Mills is our reality dating star! She’s appeared on several TV shows about dating, and is the only person I know who is more passionate and excited about dating than me! I think she introduced most of the nation to Tinder last summer, on the Channel 4 show ‘How to find Love Online.’

Finally Dan Winchester is representing the Online Dating Association on our judging panel. He owns his own dating website (which obviously won’t be entering the Awards) and knows the online industry inside out.

We counted thirty-five awards in five categories – which awards are you most looking forward to?

Best New Dating Website and Best New Dating App are proving very exciting. I love how much the industry has changed in just the last twelve months, so it’s interesting trying to work out what will be successful in the next year.

UK Dating Awards

Where do you see the future of online dating over the next few years?

I honestly don’t know – but I think that’s the exciting part! Hopefully the stigma will completely disappear – I still have a lot of really eligible male friends who would never consider dating online … and yet my most eligible female friends are all happy to pay to date online.

The awards are held in association with the Online Dating Association. What’s your relationship with ODA and why was it important to get their backing?

The ODA have been a great support. They’ve given us a great endorsement and are really excited by what we’re hoping to achieve with the UKDA, as they see it as a benefit to the Industry as a whole. We have a representative from the ODA on our Judging Panel – Dan Winchester – and the Association has been pivotal in raising the profile of the Awards.

The biggest hurdles with a set of Awards like the UKDA are raising awareness of what we’re doing, and getting people to trust in our vision. Thanks to 30 Dates, the ODA could see I had the best interests for the Dating Industry, and that I’m truly working with consumers’ best interests in mind, and so they have really helped us get word out, and helped other people believe in what we’re trying to achieve.

The success of the Awards rides on them being run in a fair, transparent manner, and on the right people being rewarded. I’ve always said from Day One, that if there’s an Award where no one who has entered deserves to win, we will cancel the category, and refund the administrative fees. The UKDA needs to be an Awards which recognises the very best of the Industry, not just whoever happened to enter.

UK Dating Awards Charly

Thanks to the ODA approval, we’ve been able to reach the biggest names in dating, so that hopefully in November, the most deserving companies and individuals will be recognised.

What are some of your biggest grievances with the not so great parts of the UK Dating industry?

Dating is really scary at times, and it’s a really big deal for a lot of people. So it makes people vulnerable, and willing to part with a lot of money. As a result it doesn’t always attract the best people, with the best intentions. Hopefully the Awards will shine a spotlight on the right people and companies, so that Daters know who they can trust.

Where do you see the UK Dating Awards in five years?

Hopefully we can just get bigger and better every year. We’re already starting quite ambitiously – at the prestigious Honorable Artillery Company, with 350 guests, a champagne reception, and Rick Edwards hosting … But hopefully if we can attract sponsors from outside the dating world, we can make the night bigger and better.

In future years, I’d love to be able to rank all applicants with some form of tier system, so that every nominee comes away with a Gold, Silver or Bronze rating, according to the services they offer daters. That’s the best way of keeping companies in check, ensuring they continue to improve, or that they continue to maintain their standards.

Anything else you’d like to share about the awards?

Nominations close on September 30th – so if you know anyone in the Dating Industry doing something particularly well – a website, app, events company, matchmaker, journalist, blogger – let them know about the Awards! The more people who get involved, the more realistic the picture of the dating world that the Awards will paint will be.

For more info on the UK Dating Awards visit their Website, Twitter or Facebook.

Photos of Charly are by the super talented Saskia Nelson the London based Online Dating Photographer and winner of our very own Trailblazer Award.

About the Author

has been reviewing and writing about the world of online dating since 2008 and the launch of Online Dating Help. A stickler for promoting ethical practices within the UK dating industry she champions the sites that get it right while highlighting those holding it back. You can follow her on Google+

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