Trixie Gardner, Baroness Gardner of Parkes

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The Baroness Gardner of Parkes

Official portrait of Baroness Gardner of Parkes crop 2.jpg
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
19 June 1981
Life Peerage
Personal details
Rachel Trixie Anne McGirr

(1927-07-17) 17 July 1927 (age 92)
Parkes, New South Wales, Australia
Political partyConservative
RelationsGreg McGirr (father)
James McGirr (uncle)
Patrick McGirr (uncle)
Joe McGirr (nephew)
Alma materUniversity of Sydney

Rachel Trixie Anne Gardner, Baroness Gardner of Parkes, AM, FRSA, JP[1] (née McGirr; born (1927-07-17)17 July 1927) is an Australian-born dentist and Conservative member of the British House of Lords.[2] She is the only Australian woman to date who has been elevated to the peerage.


Baroness Gardner was born in Parkes, New South Wales, the daughter of Greg McGirr, a former leader of the New South Wales Labor Party.[2] She earned a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) in 1954 from the University of Sydney and studied in Paris at le Cordon Bleu. She moved to the UK in 1957.

Gardner was a councillor of Westminster City Council from 1968 to 1978 and was Lady Mayoress (when her husband was Lord Mayor) for 1987-88. In 1970 she stood for Parliament for the Conservative Party against Labour's Barbara Castle in Blackburn, and in February 1974 stood against the Liberal John Pardoe in North Cornwall. In 1971 she was made a Justice of the Peace. In addition, she was elected as a member of the Greater London Council (GLC) representing Havering (1970-1973) and Enfield Southgate (1977–1986) until the GLC's abolition. She held various directorships and was the UK Representative on the United Nations Status of Women Commission 1982-1988.

On 19 June 1981, Gardner was created a life peeress of the United Kingdom as Baroness Gardner of Parkes, of Southgate in Greater London, and of Parkes in the State of New South Wales and Commonwealth of Australia.[3] She was ennobled for her two decades of community and local government work as a Conservative, the first Australian woman to be so honoured. On 4 April 2007 she was made an Honorary Fellow of the University of Sydney.[4]


Baroness Gardner can trace her roots back to Ireland to her grandfather, John McGirr, a native of Moneen, Louisburg, County Mayo, who married Mary O'Sullivan from North Cork.[5] Their son was Gardner's father, Gregory, who led the New South Wales Labor Party from March to July 1923. An uncle, James McGirr, was also in Labor politics, becoming Premier of New South Wales (1947–52). A nephew, Dr Jack McGirr, is a dentist at Lane Cove[where?] and is a former Mayor of Lane Cove.[citation needed]


Her husband, Kevin Gardner (1930–2007), was also a native of Australia. He was educated at Waverley College and won a scholarship to the University of Sydney to study dentistry, winning the Arnott Prize for oral surgery in 1954. He spent a year on the university teaching staff at the Sydney Dental Hospital before going to London in 1955. He married Trixie McGirr in 1956 in Paris, and they set up their home in London.[6]

In May 1982, the year after she joined the House of Lords, Kevin was elected to Westminster City Council, where Trixie had been a councillor since 1968. He was the first Australian to be the Lord Mayor of Westminster. He was re-elected as a councillor in 2006 at age 75. Kevin Gardner died the following year, in 2007. The couple had three daughters: Joanna, Rachel and Sarah. Joanna was Mayor (2008–09) of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London. The Gardner family is devoutly Catholic.[citation needed]


Coat of arms of Trixie Gardner, Baroness Gardner of Parkes
Coronet of a British Baron.svg
Gardner of Parkes Escutcheon.png
Arms here displayed on a male escutcheon, with an inescutcheon argent
Coronet of a Baron
Per fess Azure and Vert in chief a representation of the constellation of the Southern Cross Argent issuing in base a Sun in Splendour Or all within a Bordure indented Gold
Dexter: a Kangaroo Or gorged with a Crown Pallisado Vert grasping in the sinister forepaw a Branch of Tudor Roses slipped and leaved proper; Sinister: a Lion Or gorged with a Crown Pallisado Vert grasping in the dexter forepaw a Branch of Wattle slipped and leaved proper
A Grassy Mount growing therefrom two Waratah Flowers slipped and leaved proper [7]
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  1. ^ "Ministers' Interests" (PDF). UK Cabinet Office.
  2. ^ a b "Baroness Gardner - Guest Speaker". Independent New South Wales.
  3. ^ "No. 48661". The London Gazette. 24 June 1981. p. 8445.
  4. ^ "Honorary awards: Rachel Trixie Anne, Baroness Gardner of Parkes AM". University of Sydney. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
  5. ^ "Baroness Gardner of Parkes". p. 19129.
  6. ^ "Kevin Gardner profile (1930-2007)". University of Sydney (edited version of obit published in the Sydney Morning Herald, 10 April 2007). Retrieved 6 February 2011.
  7. ^