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"There are amazing men out there who want a wife and children but feel as if they've been sitting on a tractor for the last 10 years and haven't met anyone." Charlotte, however, is socially proactive. But it's rare to be introduced to a new face and even if I am, the likelihood is that they'll know my friends." For many rural communities, the hunt ball is an annual highlight, organised ostensibly to raise money for the local hunt, but presenting locals with a rare opportunity to dress up and swing each other around on the dance floor."I'd never go to one on my own," Charlotte says, "but as long as I have a wingman, I'm fine." This is exactly the right approach, according to dating expert Mary Balfour.The nationwide body of 662 clubs hosts social events throughout the year such as parties and quizzes.

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"But that kind of event doesn't happen every month; it takes a lot of effort to arrange." Determined to improve the chances of fresh encounters in the countryside, Lucy Reeves, 30, from Northamptonshire, founded rural matchmaking website Muddy Matches with her sister Emma in 2007.

"I grew up in the countryside before moving to London and overseas.

Young Farmers is still going strong: Anna Skilbeck, 23, a farm conservation adviser, has been a Young Farmers member since she was 14 and met her boyfriend Jamie at a Young Farmers party.

"A lot of people say it's the rural dating agency," she says.

Party-goers stay in nearby hotels and can join a pre-ball activity and a hearty walk the following day.

This year's ball in Sywell, Northamptonshire, on May 22 has a "black tie with a muddy twist" dress code.

When I moved back to the country it occurred to me how hard it is to meet people.

As soon as everyone starts to couple up and have children, meeting new people gets harder," she says.

Tickets for the event cost from £60 and there will be a live band, three-course meal and casino.

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