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Spotlight: Jill Clarke (former GB International President)

A Patrons Perspective:

I first saw Jill Clarke at the 1st Kamo Girls’ Brigade prize giving last year, and after hearing of all the positions that she held in Girls’ Brigade like International President, National Commissioner and Asia Pacific Chairman, I knew that this was the lady that I wanted to interview. I thought it would be interesting to know how she came to these positions and how girls like me could get to them as well.

Growing up on a farm in Maungaturoto, Jill didn’t attend Girls’ Brigade, in fact Jill didn’t even know that her own church had Girls’ Brigade Company. She became involved in the Girls' Brigade because of her own children. She first found a Boys’ Brigade for her eldest and then Girls’ Brigade for her daughter. After she volunteered as a parent helper at her Company for 9 years, the Junior leader at the time had to leave so she took on that role. At that time it was uncommon to be commissioned after not doing leadership courses through Girls’ Brigade. She never strived for the role, but others could see the benefit of her being the Junior leader, as she was a hardworking woman who loved teaching about life and the gospel. Jill found that Girls’ Brigade taught girls valuable life skills that they don’t learn in school like camping and knitting. Jill also wanted to share the Gospel with the girls as she is a very God orientated person, saying that leading girls to follow Christ was her main motivation to be a leader.

Having a family and running her own business, Jill had to juggle between personal and Girls’ Brigade commitments. She said it was hard but she just had passion for Girls’ Brigade and knew that this is what God wanted her to do. Jill Clarke shows us that if the opportunity is given to you, go for it. God gives you opportunities and Jill is a prime example of someone who has used her gifts and talents to encourage today's girls and tomorrow's women with what God has given her. Based on experiences shared with to me, she used every chance to honour God by serving Girls’ Brigaders and her community, both Nationally and Internationally.

As part of her International roles in Girls’ Brigade Jill went to other countries like Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. She saw that girls didn’t have many opportunities because the parents favoured boys over girls. She pushed to teach the girls life skills that they wouldn’t have been taught at school, so that they could get further and struggle less in the future with jobs. Jill also made it a big deal that girls found their way to Christ.

One of the things Jill loves about Girls’ Brigade are the friendships she made along the way. She still has friendships which originated in Girls’ Brigade that have turned into long life friends. She said it was easy to make friends through Girls’ Brigade when travelling Nationally and Internationally. Jill showed leadership skills in every role she participated in, whether it was being a Parent helper to being International President. She knew and trusted that God gave her opportunities and she did everything in her power to work hard in those positions. Jill was the true epitome of the Girls’ Brigade motto, “seek, serve and follow Christ”.

By Rebekah Smith

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