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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.They hit it off immediately, moved in together, married, and had a baby of their own, which made nine.They live in a raucous household just a few miles away."Another lady came to see Stella after escaping her violent former husband. I get a Christmas card from them every year, and postcards from their travels," Stella recalls.
I had to decline as she was now in her late 60s and I didn't think I could help her."As the business grew in the Sixties, there were no shortage of applications. "I employed a mother's help to look after Emma, alongside a secretary, a cleaner and a housekeeper," she recalls.
"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.