Introducing our new chairman, Stephen Cornford

I was born in Cambridge where my father was a GP and my mother an archaeologist. I did not follow such an academic route. I was diagnosed with dyslexia at a fairly early age. My family moved to Paignton in south Devon and I went to the now closed but futuristic Dartington Hall School. Whether a progressive education helped I don’t know.  

Having moved back to Cambridge I started work with an independent retailer which I enjoyed and within two years I was manager of our flagship store in Cambridge. As the business expanded in East Anglia, I became a director a year later. However, the pressure of the big multiple retailers was too great and the business closed down in 1985.

I was lucky enough to get a position with the National Trust in Yorkshire, firstly managing commercial activities including shops, catering and holiday cottages. It was enjoyable and challenging work. I was involved in many major projects including a new visitor centre at Fountains Abbey, the trust’s most visited property. After a few years I moved into property management with the Trust and I took on a group of properties in North Yorkshire. I also took on various other roles including European coordination and staff training. After twenty years I was almost a Yorkshireman! 

Having always felt that I would like to live and work in London I started working as chief executive of Potters Fields Park Management Trust. You may not have visited the park but you will have certainly seen it on television as it’s between City Hall and Tower Bridge and has been used for countless events and promotions including publicity for the Olympics.  

After retirement, my wife Deborah and I decided to go round the world and in particular visit New Zealand where my mother’s family had come from. After that we felt it was time to leave London behind.  We chose the Cotswolds as we had always liked our visits here and it is convenient for friends and family based in London and elsewhere to come and visit.  At first we rented in Long Compton. Deborah is a keen tennis player and soon found a warm welcome at the club in Shipton. We focused our search in the Wychwoods and in August 2019 we moved into Sinnels Field, where we have been very happy. I have joined the gym and as a keen walker I have really enjoyed the fantastic access to the countryside. 

I am very much looking forward to working alongside the volunteers who produce this popular magazine.

April-May 2021