Largest Christian Speed Dating to Take Place

The largest Christian speed dating event in Europe takes place later this month at the annual Greenbelt Festival in Cheltenham.

The event is now in its fifth year at the festival, which takes place 24-27 August.

Typically, some 250 people will line up in a marquee. Following a short prayer, a whistle will blow and 125 conversations will begin simultaneously, none lasting more than three minutes.

"The manoeuvre feels like a stratified version of the feeding of the 5,000 - without a religious miracle but with plenty of logistical ones!" explains Jackie Elton of Christian Connection, organisers of the event.

"A grand total of 1,800 conversations will take place in 90 minutes. That's 1,800 concerted blasts of emotional energy and every ounce of social skills and charm available. Don't let anyone tell you that going speed dating is a soft option. Some come for a bit of laugh - or so they say. Others are convinced that God will find them a partner."

Christian Connection has brought thousands of people together at a range of venues. Dr Steve Beldon and Georgina Woodruff met each other at last year's Greenbelt speed dating event - and will marry in the autumn.

"We both turned up with similar intentions - serious hopes deep down, but for the fun experience primarily," says Beldon, a scientist from Malvern in Worcestershire. "We had nothing to lose!

"Obviously only a few minutes to talk to each person is not a long time, so it does end up being a bit of a surreal experience. After a while you realise you are just meeting lots of people for the first time very quickly and unlikely to fall head over heals with someone there and then!"