Hello and welcome to the internet portal for The Village Regeneration Society, Villagesincrisis.com.
My name's Vince and i'm the host of this site (as well as being the founding member of the society and lead campaigner). That's a picture of me on the left there and if you'd like to ask any questions or get involved in the campaign then feel free to contact me through firstname.lastname@example.org (for general website enquiries) or email@example.com for personal enquiries and media requests.
I first decided to create this website in the summer of 2005 in an effort to attract single women to my hometown of Alston, Cumbria in the North of England. The past two decades had seen a steady decline in the number of females choosing to remain in the area and it had reached a point where women in the 18-30 age range were outnumbered 10:1 by single men. I made the decision to do what I could to reverse this trend and reasoned that 'if there are women here who want to move to the cities then surely there are women in the cities who want to move here?'.
In August 2005 that question lead to the formation of The Alston Moor Regeneration Society, a group of friends and neighbours who were all single and all loved their town. We created a poster to launch the campaign and set about publicising our need for women in the local towns and cities of Carlisle, Newcastle, Hexham and Penrith.
That first poster lead to a local newspaper columnist mentioning the campaign in his weekly diary and the media interest took off from there (in fact, you're probably reading this because you've just read an article about me in your magazine or have followed a link from a newspapers website).
After a month of TV appearances, celebrity dates, fashion magazine makeovers, front page headlines, photoshoots with models and countless meetings with TV and film producers; I decided to leave the publicity behind and return to college to complete the last year of my studies. This site had attracted over 250,000 visitors by that point, many many millions more throughout the world had heard about my campaign and my friends were already starting to form relationships or go on dates. I had managed to put my campaign into the international media domain and place my town on the map without ever really meaning to. From then on any single men in Alston would only have themseleves to blame (hey....even I got around 2000 girls wanting to go out with me!).
I literally had my bags packed, my deposit paid on a flat and my books purchased for my return to Uni when I agreed to meet a director called Patrick Collerton. Everyone I had met from TV companies up to then had been great but I just explained that I wanted to go back to 'normality' and they accepted that. Patrick, on the other hand, didn't tell me what his plans were but instead asked me what I would do if I had the backing of a TV company. My honest reply was 'I want to do some good, do something worthwhile'.
Two weeks later- my bags unpacked, my books gathering dust and back to working with my Dad on the coal-wagon I was attempting to 'do some good'.
The results of which were shown in the Channel 4 production The Town That's Looking for Love.
After the documentary aired I got involved in local politics by joining Alston Parish Council and, by a strange but lovely twist of fate, was reunited with a lost love from my early teenaged years. By all means I was happy just to be helping my town with the less interesting aspects of campaigning, working with Daddy Vince as a coalman and spending my free time with my girlfriend.
But, as Axl Rose sung in November Rain, nothing lasts forever and we both know hearts can change.....
In a double dose of irony my girlfriend had to leave to work in the city and I decided to take up a job as a supervisor of a lap-dancing bar in a city myself. Yes, you heard it right, I couldn't even stop my own girlfriend from leaving for the city and, after almost two years of trying to bring women to my town, I ended up going to work in a lap-dancing bar surrounded by scores of attractive women in various states of undress.
August 11th 2007 and two years to the day of the formation of The Alston Moor Regeneration Society I decided to log into the website for the first time in months to check my e-mails in a bout of nostalgia. Instead of the expected collection of spam, media requests and messages from ladies I instead found a steady stream of e-mails from men, like this one from Mac:
'Hi Vince. I heard about your campaign and thought id get in touch about the place where i live called shenstone. after reading about alston it seems like the problems you have are the same as ours. if you are ver down this way it would be great if you could meet me to give me some ideas on what we could do to help this place'
Other messages had come in from Devon, Cornwall, Ayrshire, Settle, Donegal, The New Forest, Hythe, West Cumbria and Weardale- all stating that these places were at risk of 'female extinction' and asking for my help or advice.
That feeling of wanting to 'do something worthwhile' came over me again and The Alston Moor Regeneration Society was transformed into The Village Regeneration Society to reflect the grander scheme of my goals and shift to a national campaign.
After realising that a 'dating' company had stolen the old domain name of countrysidecrisis.com I managed to get the original name of villagesincrisis.com back from another company who had stolen it from me two years ago (it's a hard world when folk go around stealing domain names isn't it?) and got this site up and running again with a brief statement including a lost of ten villages I was hoping to visit. This was picked up on by a PR company working on behalf of Nuts TV who basically asked if I wanted to go and hang out with some models. I couldn't really refuse and that PR event (although not exactly to my tastes) lead to a renewed interst in my story and offers of support for my latest campaign (it also pushed the unique visitors to this site past the 750,000 mark).
In September 2007 I made the first official visit of my Village Regeneration Campaign to Shenstone in Staffordshire and followed this up in December 2007 with my second visit to Weardale in County Durham.
I am currently looking for some form of backing that will enable me to commit to this project full time. I was able to help my own town whilst working as a coalman and earning five pounds a day but I can't do that now that the bar has been set higher. Because of this I juggle the campaign with a full time job and my academic studies meaning that on occasions I don't update this site and my replies can take longer than expected.
My next planned visit is to Ireland and should take place in the first quarter of 2008.