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A lifetime in politics

PUBLISHED: 23:00 31 May 2002 | UPDATED: 12:01 03 March 2010

THEY say a day is a lifetime in politics – but Janet Clarke has managed 11 years working for Ipswich's Mayors.

Mrs Clarke joined Ipswich Council in 1979 and rose through the secretarial ranks to take the hot seat in the Mayor's office in 1991.

THEY say a day is a lifetime in politics – but Janet Clarke has managed 11 years working for Ipswich's Mayors.

Mrs Clarke joined Ipswich Council in 1979 and rose through the secretarial ranks to take the hot seat in the Mayor's office in 1991.

But after a short illness, the much-loved civic secretary finally left her post at a multi-mayor reception in the Town Hall.

She said: "I've got very mixed feelings. I'll be able to spend more time with the family, which they're pleased about.

"And I'll be able to do countless things that have been stuck in the cupboard for years.

"But I'll miss the buzz of the civic role in Ipswich. I've never been bored. I've had many other emotions, but I've never been bored."

Mrs Clarke highlighted two memories of Mayors suffering mishaps, but left both unnamed.

One unfortunate Mayor turned to Mrs Clarke's needlework skills when she needed to be sewed back into a dress at a charity ball.

While even the super-secretary was unable to help another former boss whose hat was blown off the Princess Royal's helicopter.

Ipswich's current mayor Councillor Richard Risebrow led the plaudits. He said he felt unfortunate not to have worked directly with Mrs Clarke.

But he said he spoke for all the Mayors in paying tribute to her service.

He said: 'Thank you from all of us for that most effective manner in which you have conducted your duties.'

Ex-Mayor Albert Grant also spoke in glowing terms of his former secretary.

He said: "I was worried about how I was going to get through it, to be honest.

"But Janet took me and my wife through. I am sure all the Mayors would say that Janet was the heart of the civic ceremony."

But far from planning a quiet retirement, Mrs Clarke revealed she was determined to continue her active life.

She said: "I hope I won't be out to pasture for too long. I'll be looking for a new challenge in a charity or voluntary organisation."


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