Thirty-eight-year-old entrepreneur Kate Doran is celebrating after picking up an award for her business – founded after she suffered a brain haemorrhage.

Kate, from Mount Hawke, received a judges’ commendation for Circular Economy at the Cornwall Sustainability Awards for her enterprise, Flotsam Flo which takes plastic items and repurposes them into other things.

Kate, who is based in Redruth, started the company – named after her grandmother, Florence – after suffering a subarachnoid brain haemorrhage.

Kate explained: “My gran was a very strong role model in my life. She taught me anything is possible, to get on with things and “there’s no such word as can’t”. Without this upbringing and embedded value, I wouldn’t have made it as far as I have.

“Ten weeks after the brain haemorrhage, I competed in the Blenheim Palace Triathlon and came third. It all made me realise tomorrow is never promised and so I quit my teaching role to pursue my dreams. In November 2021, the vaccination tent at my local GP surgery in Mount Hawke was vandalised. I created heart and hand designs to convey support in the community and fixed the tent with broken paddling pools and inflatables.

“Helping others is at the heart of everything Flotsam Flo stands for.

“Watching the start of the war in Ukraine, led to me making products out of yellow and blue broken inflatables and giving the proceeds of £400 to a Ukrainian charity.

“In July this year a close friend of mine died of cancer. In support of the hospice which looked after her, we made a bag for them to use to raise money.

“They have subsequently donated all of their marketing banners for me to use, avoiding landfill. These will be turned into future products. Four other charities have also joined the movement to donate theirs making this a truly sustainable circular economy.”

Kate Doran receiving her Cornwall Sustainability commendation award
Kate Doran receiving her Cornwall Sustainability commendation award (Contributed)

Kate joined an initiative called Cultivator Cornwall which provides support to creative businesses as well as mentors.

“I couldn’t have done this without the grants and help from this scheme,” Kate said. “My mentor Clive Kessell has been amazing.

“We have also formed a new and exciting partnership with the UK’s largest waste handling company, Biffa.

“A year ago I had sold only three items in my Etsy shop and I was so disheartened. Now we have numerous grants, new sewing machines on the way, a sign written van and a Cornwall Sustainability Award. I have run a couple of workshops in schools and I would love to do more of this in the new year and run my own workshops in the community.  

“I cannot believe how this has changed in a year and I cannot wait for 2023.”