THE JUDGES

Charly Lester

CEO & Founder

One of Britain’s leading Dating Industry experts, Charly Lester set up the UK Dating Awards in April 2014 as a response to the emails she received from readers of her dating blog ’30 Dates’, asking for advice on which dating sites and apps to use.

Renowned for her brutal honesty, and first-hand experience, Charly’s dating advice has appeared in the Guardian, Observer, Independent, Telegraph, Metro and Evening Standard. Charly is a regular guest on Radio Four’s Woman’s Hour, and has appeared on The Apprentice and BBC Newsnight.

Charly was the first ever Editor-in-Chief of the Guardian’s Soulmates blog, and runs regular Guardian Masterclasses. In January 2015 Time Out media group created the role of Global Head of Dating specifically for Charly.

In addition to co-ordinating the Awards, she works in an advisory capacity for a number of major dating companies, and new start-ups.

I’m so excited to see the Awards heading to the European mainland, and also to America this year. It’s a really exciting year for the Dating Awards, and I just hope the rest of the world embraces them in the way the British dating industry has over the past two years.

Follow Charly on Twitter @30Dates, and check out her blog at 30datesblog.com

Caroline Brealey

Head Judge

Caroline is the founding matchmaker of Mutual Attraction, London’s leading award winning dating agency. Described as the ‘matchmaker of matchmakers’ by BBC Radio 4, Caroline is a leading authority in the matchmaking industry and is regularly called upon to give relationship advice in local and national press. You may have spotted her on Good Morning Britain, Channel 5 and in The Times, Telegraph and Glamour to name a few.

A finalist in the 2014 and 2015 Natwest Great British Entrepreneur Awards, Caroline has an eye for a good business as well as a good match and will be putting this to good use as head judge. Supporting and training the matchmakers of tomorrow through her training programme ‘Matchmaker Academy’ she takes an active and hands on approach to changing the face of matchmaking.

Caroline won Matchmaker of the Year at both iDate and the UK Dating Awards in 2014. She was Head Judge of the UK Dating Awards in 2015

Last year the Euro Dating Awards were fantastic with incredible dating businesses and individuals coming together to celebrate the achievements made across dating in Europe. I'm looking forward to seeing this years applicants and how they are striving to improve dating for all.

You can read more about Caroline at www.carolinebrealey.co.uk or www.mutualattraction.co.uk and stop by to say hi @matchmaker_miss

Daisy Buchanan

Daisy is an author, journalist and internet dating obsessive. Winner of Dating Writer of the Year 2015, she writes about everything everything from creating the perfect profile to how to cope if the date of your dreams disappears off the face of the internet for publications that include The Debrief, Esquire, Grazia, The Guardian, The Independent, Look, Marie Claire, The Pool, Red and the Telegraph. She’s also a regular contributor on BBC Radio Four and Radio Five Live, and has advised relationship gurus Avnish and Anita Goyal on online dating issues.

She’s Grazia’s resident Agony Aunt, responding to readers’ problems in her Dear Daisy column, and her book Meeting Your Match: Navigating The Minefield Of Online Dating was published by Carlton in January 2015. Daisy says:

I’m a romantic, and I’m so excited about all the opportunities that online dating can bring us. I met my husband on Twitter so I know that right now, we’re much more likely to meet The One via a screen than across a crowded room. I think it’s vital to ensure that all hopeful singles have the very best chance to meet other amazing people and hopefully find love. By recognising and promoting excellence in the dating industry, these awards are doing just that. I’m honoured to be part of the process.

Daisy tweets @NotRollergirl and is always up for some dating chat - say hello!

Dan Winchester

Dan Winchester has worked in the online dating industry since 2005, when he founded one of the UK's first free dating websites, FreeDating.co.uk. He is an active supporter of the dating industry, speaking at various dating conferences, and more recently helping to set up the UK's Online Dating Association, of which he is a Director. The Association promotes best practice and standards for companies running dating websites.

Dan is particularly passionate about eradicating scammers from dating sites, and to this end he co-founded Scamalytics which allows the dating industry to share intelligence about scammers abusing their services.

The UK Dating Awards brings together all areas of our diverse industry in a way that no other event does. It celebrates excellence, and gives dating sites, apps, bloggers, coaches, matchmakers - and our consumers - a clear idea of what they can expect from the very best in our industry. Now all these benefits are coming to Europe!

For more information about Dan visit dan.co.uk or follow him on Twitter @freedating

Laurence Holloway

Laurence is the co-founder and chief technologist at Lovestruck, one of the leading online dating brands in the UK, Hong Kong and Singapore. Launched in 2006, Lovestruck has been at the forefront of the online dating revolution and prides itself on delivering the highest quality in all areas: from customer care through to member experience, product and marketing. Laurence specialises in product development and the business models of online dating, and spoke recently at the Global Dating Insights conference in London. He is also a founding member and director of the Online Dating Association, which was formed to maintain the best standards in the industry and provide valuable guidance both to consumers and dating business operators.

Outside of Lovestruck, he is the proud father of a baby daughter and enjoys making loud noises in his grungey rock band. He also has a sideline in creative art, working with various museums to bring the wonder of the world's most renowned artists into the creative hands of young people. He is also a strong advocate for "geek power", encouraging those with technical skills to rise up to the very top tier of organisations and change the world!.

I'm very proud to be a judge at the European Dating Awards, which will celebrate the huge wealth of talent in the mainstream dating industry – and across many different countries, languages and cultures. At Lovestruck we know how powerful winning this type of award can be. It's a very special honour that can bring so much to your dating business and is wonderful thing to share with your members. Good luck to all entrants!

Follow Laurence on Twitter here @laurenceholl

Julia Porter

Julia is Director of Consumer Revenues at Guardian News & Media and leads their ecommerce and subscriptions businesses including Guardian Soulmates. Living according the Guardian values of openness and transparency, Soulmates is a highly popular dating destination for Guardian readers and beyond. The original Guardian Soulmates celebrates it’s 21st birthday in 2016 whilst the online version launched in 2004 and the app launched in 2015.

Julia is a founding member and Director of ODA (Online Dating Association) as well as Chair of UK DMA (Direct Marketing Association). She is a passionate advocate of setting the highest standards for responsible marketing and ensuring that her customers are handled with integrity and respect. In both roles, she has been central to defining clear Codes of Practice for Association members.

I’m delighted to be a judge at the European Dating Awards and very happy to support the Awards. There is much to celebrate in the burgeoning online and app dating industry across Europe and we should be loud and proud about our respective achievements.

Mike Bandar

Mike is a founding Partner of Turn Partners, a startup studio focused on the acquisition, turnaround and creation of digital businesses. Along with partner James, Mike led the turn around of the niche-dating agency Toyboy Warehouse, achieving over a 2000% revenue growth in 18 months. Turn Partners are also behind Hopper, the Instagram scheduling tool and the influencer marketing agency, Real Tribe. Turn Partners are proud to hold the UKDA ‘Entrepreneur of the year’ award for the last two continuous years.

Outside of Turn Partners, Mike delivers startup training workshops around the world helping individuals and corporates become more entrepreneurial.

The speed of innovation within the dating industry has rapidly increased in the last 3 years. The Dating Awards are a great celebration of this and I'm extremely excited to once again take the time to learn about and consider the great work of dating businesses across Europe over the last 12 months.

Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeBandar

Supports the
European Dating Awards

Digital increasingly permeates our lives and we are just at the tip of this change. Younger generations coming through now see the world as “digital first”. Whether this is shopping, socialising, working or organising their personal lives. The most personal of connections, ‘the date’, has for the past decade been taking place in this environment and will only increase as our customers become increasingly digital. The industry growing around this change has seen some major innovation and is in constant flux. The ODA was born to encourage and help develop an industry that takes care of its customers in this most emotional of interactions. It is with this in mind that we are happy to support the Dating Awards again in 2017. They provide an opportunity for us to recognise the hard work that people and organisations put into developing products and services whilst also acknowledging the changing face of the industry and key innovators.

Andrew McClelland
Chief Executive
Online Dating Association