Olive Clarke OBE

Farming’s original female trailblazer Olive Clarke, OBE, has been presented with a bespoke accolade at this year’s British Farming Awards. 

The Cumbrian-born stalwart was presented with a Special Recognition: Lifetime Achievement award to honour her dedication and remarkable service to agriculture at the age of 101.

Born on the May 19, 1922, Olive, of Kaker, Mill Farm in Preston Patrick, near Milnthorpe, she has held a life-long commitment to addressing rural issues across Cumbria and beyond.  

Growing up at Audlands Farm in Cumbria, Olive was an only child, brought up, she recalls, against the backdrop of a dreadful depression in this country. But aged 11, the pieces of her life began to fall into place when she secured a scholarship to Kendal Girls High School. Fourteen was the usual age to leave school, but she left at 16, and returned home to work on the farm at a time of high unemployment. 

When three local boys decided to create a Young Farmer club at Old Hutton, Olive, at the age of 16, couldn’t wait to join them.

 Eight and a half decades later she remains an intrinsic part of themovement and was honored as Life Vice President of the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs in 2022. 

Olive’s commitment to some of farming’s most-valued organisations has never wavered, as shown by her heady list of achievements. 

Highlights include becoming the first female president of the CLA and of the Westmorland County Show, Deputy Lieutenant of Cumbria, a lifetime member of the Women’s Institute, a magistrate, Governor of Cumbria College, Parish Councillor to name, literally, just a few. Her diary today, is brimming with events and social engagements. 

It is perhaps testament as to why she received more than 500 cards and presents when she reached her milestone centenarian birthday and why she has dedicated a room at her home to showcase them describing how such sentiment wanted to make her weep with joy.  

Family is also of great importance to her and after a long and happy marriage to Arthur her late husband, today she enjoys spending time with their two daughters, Gwen and Alison, along with their four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.  

On winning the award Olive said she was humbled and astounded at being awarded the accolade. 

“I have enjoyed being in agriculture, all my life. Being a Young Farmer never alters, you just get older but it stays in your heart forever. 

“I’m truly honoured to receive this award.”