A single mother has taken on not one but three new business ventures.

Allison Prior, 55, from Loughton is setting up a dating agency, a jazz night and a comedy night as well as bringing up her 11-year-old son.

The dating agency, ‘Not Online Dating’, will be a full time job and is aimed at bringing single people from Loughton together through a range of common interests rather than online profiles.

Ms Prior said: “It’s about going to events that you are interested in and meeting like minded people.

“Going out with a group is a lot better first date than meeting one person on their own when, if you don’t like them, you are stuck with them and it’s difficult to make an exit.”

The agency is free to join and single people can select events listed on the website they are interested in.

Events will range from medieval themed banquets to white water rafting as well as more traditional date nights such as speed dating and jazz evenings.

Ms Prior added: “I think some people want to do these sorts of things but don’t because they don’t know anyone else wanting to do it or they don’t know it’s available.

“The fact everything will be pre-paid is another advantage because it takes the awkwardness out of deciding who should pay at the end of a date.”

The former designer, who is not currently looking for romance, came up with the idea after she and others she spoke to had found online dating sites unhelpful.

Her comedy night will open this Saturday evening at the Gardener’s Arms in York Hill, Loughton, and will be held the second Saturday of every month.

Saturday’s perfomers include Chris Lynam, Sooz Kempner, winner of the 2012 Funny Women Variety Award, and Jolly Boat, a group that cover modern songs in the style of pirate songs.

Ms Prior said: “I want to creat a club in the style of the old venues which were small and encouraged audience participation.

“Some of the best comedy comes from people heckling.”

Her jazz club will be at the same venue the first Friday of every month.