Sarah Clarke, who currently runs the Wimbledon tennis championships, has been confirmed as the first female Black Rod. She will replace David Leakey in early 2018 and is the first female to hold the role since it was created in 1350.
Sarah Clarke said about her appointment:
“I am both deeply honoured and delighted to be invited to take up the role of Black Rod. 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. 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 Leader of the House of Lords, said:
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.
“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.
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”.