Sarah Clarke (Black Rod)

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Sarah Clarke

Sarah Clarke 2019 (crop).jpg
Clarke in 2019
Lady Usher of the Black Rod
Assumed office
13 February 2018
MonarchElizabeth II
Preceded byDavid Leakey
Personal details
Born (1965-10-12) 12 October 1965 (age 55)
Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England
Alma materRoehampton Institute of Higher Education
University of Leicester

Sarah Clarke OBE (born 12 October 1965) is a British administrator. Since 13 February 2018, she has served as Black Rod, the first female Black Rod in the 650-year history of the role. The role is formally "The Lady Usher of the Black Rod" (for previous incumbents "Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod").[1][2] Before taking this role, she was in charge of the administration of The Championships, Wimbledon.

Early life and education[edit]

Clarke was born on 12 October 1965 in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England. She was educated at Wolverhampton Girls' High School, a grammar school in the town. She studied at the Roehampton Institute of Higher Education, graduating with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in 1988: as the institute could not award its own degree, her BSc was validated by the University of Surrey. She obtained a certificate from the Institute of Marketing in 1993 and a Master of Science (MSc) degree from the University of Leicester in 2005.[3]



Prior to working for Wimbledon, Clarke's first job was working as a tennis tournament organiser for Brian Hewitt Associates in Durham after which she worked on four Olympic Games, including the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the London Marathon, and UK Sport.[2]

Clarke was employed by The Championships, Wimbledon, as Championships director, and first worked at Wimbledon as a school-leaver in 1986.[4] Interviewed by The Daily Telegraph in 2017, she commented on their quest for perfection, "We live for details. We love details".[4]

Black Rod[edit]

Clarke succeeded Lieutenant General David Leakey, who retired in February 2018, as Black Rod.[1] Speaking to The Guardian, Clarke said:

"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."[5]

Clarke heads a department that manages the day-to-day business of the House of Lords, and is "also responsible for business resilience and continuity planning", and will have about 30 staff, including the Yeoman Usher and the House of Lords doorkeepers.[1][6] She is paid up to £93,000 a year.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "First female Black Rod in 650 years". BBC News. BBC. 17 November 2017. Archived from the original on 17 November 2017. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Sarah Clarke appointed to the role of Black Rod". Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  3. ^ "Clarke, Sarah". Who's Who 2019. Oxford University Press. 1 December 2018. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  4. ^ a b Fletcher, Martin (3 July 2017). "Inside Wimbledon: What really goes on behind the scenes". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 5 July 2017. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  5. ^ Walker, Peter (17 November 2017). "Sarah Clarke becomes first female Black Rod after 669 years". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 17 November 2017. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  6. ^ "Sarah Clarke appointed to the role of Black Rod – News from Parliament". UK Parliament. Archived from the original on 17 November 2017. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
Government offices
Preceded by
David Leakey
Black Rod