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Stroud & Proud: Doina Cornell, leader of SDC

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Doina Cornell has lived in the district for 22 years, for the last decade she has represented Dursley on the district council and since 2018 has been the leader of Stroud District Council.

Outside of her council work, Doina helps run the family business, Cornell Sailing, which publishes reference books for sailors. She had an unusual childhood spent sailing around the world and wrote about her experiences in her memoir Child of the Sea.

We put Doina under the spotlight

When are you at your happiest? 

Sat around the dinner table talking about politics and the issues of the day with my family and friends.

What has been the scariest moment in your life?

Nearly being shipwrecked on a coral reef in the Caribbean aged nine.

What has been your biggest disappointment?  

Training to be a primary school teacher which I thought was my life’s vocation and realising I was not very good at lesson planning and behaviour management; fortunately, around the same time, I realised I was quite good at politics. 

What is your guiltiest pleasure? 

Bingeing on TV series; I cannot resist anything Drag Race-related!

Who is the most famous person in your phone? 

If you are a sailor, my dad, Jimmy Cornell.

What is your favourite smell? 

I lost my sense of smell for a while with Covid so pleased it is back: lavender and rosemary from my garden.

Who would play you in a film about your life? 

Helen Bonham-Carter – small, dark and fierce.

What do you like most about living in the Stroud area? 

Our caring community, independent spirit, and the beautiful countryside.

What would you improve about Stroud? 

Car-free town centres and free, frequent buses.

What is your ideal weekend? 

A Friday night live gig in Bristol; Saturday would be a walk or cycle through the valleys or over the hills on a sunny day and a picnic with a gorgeous view, followed by an evening in the Old Spot pub; Sunday would definitely be a lie in and then brunch in a local cafe, a lazy afternoon with the Sunday papers, my regular Sunday afternoon Zoom call with my family which we started during lockdown; and something cultural in the evening, theatre or whatever thought-provoking event Stroud is very good at laying on! 

What is on your bucket list? 

I have a few unfinished books knocking around as well as poetry and stories; finish one and get it published.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Love is greater than hate.

What book and song would you take with you if stranded on an uninhabited island? 

Lord of the Rings and Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it by Lana del Rey.

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