There will be at least two more couples than usual in Devizes celebrating Valentine’s Day together today, thanks to a series of singles soirées.

Devizes group Country-phile Singles, started by Bromham divorcee Lisa Wheeler, has been giving single adults from Wilts-hire and surrounding counties a great new way to come together in the form of Singles Soirees.

Ms Wheeler said: “They are proving to be a great success, having, on average, drawn over 80 singles aged over 30 to the last three monthly soirées, with the idea of bringing singles together and giving them a chance to connect.

“People consistently tell me that they love the friendly and relaxed continental drinks party atmosphere at the soirées.

“They have been very conducive to forming new relationships of all kinds... both friendship and love.

“Besides learning that new friendships are being forged, it's been very gratifying to see people pairing off – two couples that I know of to date.

“At the last soiree I saw a lot of billing and cooing – it was so romantic.

“It will be nice to learn in time whether these new beginnings have lasted.”

Countryphile will be hosting two more singles gatherings this month, a Valentine’s dance/disco to be held at Devizes Sports Club tomorrow and, ten days later on February 25, is the monthly Singles Soiree in the Cellar Bar of the Bear Hotel, both starting at 7pm.

Though business in Devizes is suffering much the same as anywhere else in the county, people are not skimping when it comes to paying tribute to their loved ones, it seems.

Ruth Matthews, at H J Johnson’s jewellers in Maryport Street, reported that sales of engagement rings have risen in the last week or two.

She said: “You get a lot proposals on Valentine’s Day so that would explain the rise in the sale of those items. Heart pendants are also popular.”

Jo Batchelor, at Devizes Books ,said the sales of her Valentine’s cards had been holding up, despite the recession.

She said: “It’s not so much the recession as the ridiculous cost of postage these days. The cost of a stamp is now such a high proportion of the cost of the card.”

The Bear Hotel is hosting three events in their Lambton’s restaurant in the Market Place in the next few days.

Hotel manager Catherine Downie said that tonight’s seven-course tasting menu event had all but sold out despite the £55 a head charge and bookings are going well for the intimate three-course dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.

Ms Downie said: “Things are tight at the moment, but people still want to celebrate on special occasions.”