STEVE Carruthers has taken to national television in his search for love.
The 30-year-old has Cruzons syndrome, a condition in which the skull grows up instead of out, and had despaired of ever finding someone to share lifes ups and downs with.
Supermarket worker Steve, of Burdon Crescent, Ryhope, has not had a serious girlfriend since his engagement broke up 10 years ago.
He believes the tragic early deaths of his brother Mark and sister Amanda, who died within a year of each other a decade ago, destroyed his confidence.
Now he has turned to Channel 4’s show The Undateables in a bid to find a soulmate, with whom he can be as happy as his parents Ian and Sue have been.
“I had lost my brother and sister and I didn’t want to lose anybody else,” Steve told the Echo.
“I was not very confident about myself. I was always unsure about dating.”
The chance to appear on TV came about through his friend Hadyn Clark, who also has Cruzons and appeared on the first series of The Undateables.
“I was approached by the production company and they asked me if I would like to be on the series,” said Steve.
“I thought about it for a long time until Haydn told me to give it a try, that it would change my perception of relationships and dating.
“He said: ‘It will change your opinion not just about what other people think of you, but about what you think about yourself’.”
Appearing on the show helped Steve realise that if someone judged him by appearances, it was their problem, not his.
“There are always people who are not willing to give you a chance and I thought I was never going to meet anyone.
“I always thought people would not want to date me because of my appearance. But doing the show has restored my confidence.
“I realised I was so negative about myself, that I was putting that across to people when speaking to them.
“I realised I had to show that confidence in myself.”
Steve is in no doubt that taking part in the programme was the right move.
“It has absolutely been one of the best experiences of my life.
“Since doing the show, everybody has seen a massive change in me. They have all seen the confidence and the happiness – it has all come back.
“It has taken me back to being the Stephen I was before my brother and sister passed away.”
So has the search for love been a success?
“I am not really allowed to say anything – people need to watch the show,” said Steve.
“Let’s just say I am a much happier person now.”
l Steve’s episode of The Undateables can be seen at 9pm on Channel 4 on Tuesday.