Narrandera Shire Councillor and former Mayor Jenny Clarke was the recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia as part of the 2018 Queen’s Birthday honours.
Cr Clarke was rewarded for service to the community of Narrandera and to local government.
“I feel a little overwhelmed at present,” she said. “It’s certainly an honour to have been nominated, but to actually be considered worthy and receive the award, I am truly humbled.
“I don’t know who nominated me – you usually don’t find out – but I wanted to sincerely thank my nominators, whoever they are.”
Cr Clarke has had five terms in local government, including five consecutive terms as Narrandera’s mayor from 2011 to 2016.
According to her nomination form, one of Cr Clarke’s greatest achievements while mayor was leading the Council’s Fit for the Future Local Government reform program. After a lot of work, Narrandera was declared ‘Fit for the Future’, a step which avoided the council from any potential amalgamation.
Also during Cr Clarke’s time as mayor, she chaired the committee responsible for the design, funding application and renovation of the Narrandera Arts and Community Centre, creating an exhibition space in the town. She also led the Shire delegation to Sydney to appeal for funding for the assisted living units in Narrandera.
“I do what I do because I love doing it, not for any recognition. I do it because I want to do it,” Cr Clarke said.
Cr Clarke has been rewarded and recognised previously for her work over the years. She was the recipient of the Local Government NSW Emeritus Award in 2016 for services to the community and was awarded the Gabrielle Upton MP award for contributions by women in local government.
When Cr Clarke was mayor of Narrandera, she was the only woman on the Council. In 2016, she encouraged other women to get involved and stand for council. Currently there are five women on the Narrandera Shire Council and for the first time women outnumber men on the council.
She also received the Paul Harris Fellow in 2016 from the Rotary Club of Narrandera for her contributions to the community.
Cr Clarke has been a member of the Narrandera Rotary Club for 12 years, and was the president of Rotary for the 2010/2011 year. Cr Clarke has also leant her support behind the scenes, offering advice for community groups to navigate the sometimes murky waters of grant funding applications.
Sometimes it’s the little things that mean a lot. Cr Clarke is also a blood donor and has been for over 30 years.
“I’ve given well over 100 donations. I believe if I can save just one person’s life it’s worth it.”
She is also a presenter on Spirit FM and was the first put her hand up to present when the community radio station began 12 years ago.
“Of course, I’m very biased, but it’s the best community radio station in Australia. My choice of music is strictly Australian country music and most of the ones I play are independent country music artists who don’t get a lot of airplay.”
Cr Clarke has also been a Justice of the Peace for 30 years, joking that between council, being a JP and now the Order of Australia she’s on her way to getting most of the alphabet around her name.
Life hasn’t always been sweet in the Clarke household.
“My one regret is that our beautiful daughter Heidi is not here to share it. Back in 1996 in year 12 she received a medal and a certificate of commendation for service to the community by the Order of Australia, one of 20 in NSW,” Cr Clarke said.
Heidi’s sudden death came when Cr Clarke was acting as Narrandera’s mayor and despite the tragedy, she soldiered on to work hard for the Narrandera community throughout this time of grief.
“None of this is possible without family support.”