London | Sarah Clarke is the new Black Rod
Sarah Clarke, the Tournament Director of The Championships, Wimbledon, has been appointed by the Queen as Black Rod and will be known as Lady Usher of the Black Rod.
She will take over the role from David Leakey, who has been Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod since 2011.
She will be the first woman to hold that position in 669 years. The role itself is now seen more as a ceremonial one though the position carries plenty of responsibilities within Westminster.
Sarah’s fantastic record at Wimbledon and elsewhere shows she is the right person for the task Lord Fowler,
Originating from a role created in 1348 by Edward III to guard the door outside meetings of his advisory council, the Order of the Garter, Black Rod is now a senior official in the House of Lords.
Prior to working at Wimbledon, Clarke worked for the 2012 Olympic Games, the London marathon and UK Sport and was “deeply honoured and delighted” to be offered the post.
“Over many years I have been fortunate to work at the heart of some of the world’s most complex events and institutions. To be given the opportunity to join such an experienced and dedicated team is a great privilege,” she said.
“The House of Lords is a place where the smallest detail is as important as the big picture and the depth of heritage and tradition is second to none. I am truly looking forward to starting work.”
Lord Fowler, the Speaker of the House of Lords welcomed her. “I am very pleased to welcome Sarah Clarke to the role of Black Rod. As the first woman to take on the role, this is a historic moment for the house,” he said.
“The Lords has a great record of women taking on senior political roles. Five of the last seven leaders of the Lords and the current leader of the opposition have been women, as well as both my predecessors as Lord Speaker.
“I am sure Sarah will continue that tradition and do an exemplary job as Black Rod.”
Fowler added: “People are most familiar with Black Rod for the part they play at state opening, but the job is much more than that. Some of the most important work happens behind the scenes in organising addresses to parliament by visiting heads of state and other state events, as well as ensuring we have appropriate plans in place to keep the important work of the Lords going in a crisis.
“Sarah’s fantastic record at Wimbledon and elsewhere shows she is the right person for the task.”