Wednesday, 17 July 2013
60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Stella Jones
Dorchester’s current Mayor, Stella Jones, is now in her third term in the role – a feat equalled by her husband, Trevor. With 40 years to her credit she is the longest serving regularly elected member of West Dorset District Council and holds positions on many of the county town’s charities associated with children and families. A former teacher, she retired three-years-ago after 18 years at Damers Road School but now almost has a class of her own with four children and 10 grandchildren. She is hoping to involve young people in shaping the future of the town during her year in office, including setting up a Youth Council. Mrs Jones also plans to help raise the profile of a number of small charities whose work, she says, sometimes gets overlooked. She has been an East Ward town councillor since 1973 and today serves on both the town and district council and has been a county councillor in the past.
HOW did you come to be involved in local politics?
Through Trevor when he stood as a parliamentary candidate in Preston North. I helped out with the campaign and got involved in leafleting and so on. Then when we moved here, in 1971, people were being interviewed as candidates for the local election and I thought: ‘If they can do it, so can I’.
WHAT do you get out of your roles on the district and town council and, in this year, in being mayor?
I enjoy meeting people and helping people help themselves. We have a great community in Dorchester with so many people giving their time to help others.
YOU do seem to have a full diary – why do you try and meet every request made of you?
Well, if you’re going to do a job you might as well do it properly…every event I go to is completely different and I can’t help being inspired by so many people. I was at St Mary’s church recently to hear about how a lady there was raising funds to help in Uganda. It makes you want to help as well.
WITH a large family and busy schedule do you manage to find time for yourself?
Yes – I still try and swim and play tennis. I also love reading and then there’s walking our latest dog, Rani, a Golden Retriever.
WHAT do you always make sure you have in your handbag?
A mobile phone because my car’s not been very reliable lately – and a comb because when you turn up as mayor you’re expected to look as smart as you can.
WHAT has been your favourite moment as mayor over the years?
That’s very difficult to answer. All the organisations I visit and people I see offer something which is positive. But this year at mayor-making was special because the whole family turned up, some of them travelling from as far away as the Peak District to be there. It’s not very often we all get together all at once – so that was a wonderful.
WHAT keeps you in Dorchester?
It’s obviously very beautiful in and around Dorchester and when you have small children it is such a wonderful town to bring them up in. The whole town is one community. There’s nowhere else I would rather be.
WHAT would you do with a big lottery win?
I’d probably give most of it away – it would be good to help schools in Africa where they have so little. It’s so important to have a proper education. That can make such a difference to your life chances.
WOULD you consider being mayor again – or is three times enough?
Trevor has done it three times as well. I don’t really want to do it more than him and besides there are lots of people who deserve a chance.
HAVE you ever worked out how much time you devote to public services in a year when you are Mayor as well as a town and district councillor not to mention all the other groups you sit on?
No, it would probably frighten me, but I enjoy it. (At the Mayor-Making seconder Councillor Susie Hosford had worked out that Stella’s combined time on local councils amounted to 80 years of public service)
DO you still have ambitions for yourself?
I would like to learn how to paint and to play the piano properly. We have one but I know so little. It would be nice to be able to play well, but it would be only for my enjoyment, I wouldn’t want to play in public.