1. ITV Report

First female Black Rod appointed in 650-year history of House of Lords

Sarah Clarke is the first female Black Rod in the 650-year history of the institution. Credit: House of Lords

A woman has been appointed for the first time as the Governor of the Black Rod in the House of Lords.

Sarah Clarke is the first female Black Rod in the 650-year history of the institution.

She was previously Championships Director at the All England Lawn Tennis Club and was responsible for the organisation of the Championships, Wimbledon, and previously held roles at four Olympic games, the London Marathon and UK Sport.

Ms Clarke said she was "deeply honoured and delighted" to be invited to take up the role.

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.

– Sarah Clarke

Lord Fowler, Speaker of the House of Lords said that appointing the first woman to take on the role was "a historic moment for the House".

Ms Clarke will formally take on the duties early next year, succeeding David Leakey who is leaving at the end of this year.

Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod David Leakey will leave the post at the end of the year. Credit: PA

The role of the Usher of the Black Rod is a senior position in the House of Lords responsible for managing the State Opening of Parliament.

The most high profile part of the role is summoning the House of Commons to hear the Queen's Speech by knocking on the door with the black rod.

Credit: PA

Black Rod is also responsible for business resilience and continuity planning for the House of Lords, and leads a department that includes the Yeoman Usher and the House of Lords Doorkeepers.

Black Rod is appointed by The Queen on the recommendation of a selection panel chaired by the Lord Speaker.