Doina Cornell with daughter Nera and father Jimmy on their voyage across the Northwest Passage on the Arctic Ocean

I was born in Cornwall, the daughter of a Romanian immigrant, and have lived in Gloucestershire with my family for the last 17 years. I had an unusual childhood, sailing round the world on a small yacht from the ages of seven to fourteen.

I love writing and won the 1998 London Arts Board short story competition with my short story Does the Sun Rise over Dagenham? which is still a set text on some university courses. My childhood memoir Child of the Sea was published in 2012.

I’ve held a variety of jobs, from waitress to website manager, I’ve taught in primary schools in Gloucester and around the county, and worked for two years for the Gloucester Diocese Resource Centre. I’ve always been the main bread-winner of my family, and know how hard it can be to make ends meet.

I currently work for the family business organising sailing events and publishing books. I still have a chance to sail sometimes, and most recently took part in expeditions to the Arctic and the Pacific to parts of the world most at threat from climate change. I coordinated an environmental programme in partnership with UNESCO which saw sailors take part in citizen science projects, school links, and community work in some of the remotest parts of the world.

My education: comprehensive schools in Cornwall and Surrey, a degree in International History from the LSE and a PGCE from the University of Gloucestershire. I studied for a year in Paris after finishing university, and speak fluent French.