It has been 10 years since Clare Walker OAM passed away, however, Gunnedah residents do not need to look hard to find her contributions.

The Wagga-born local moved to Mt Nombi, near Mullaley, with her husband Eric Walker in 1945. Their four children were born between 1946 and 1952.

From there, her contributions to the Gunnedah community clubs were outstanding, including but not limited to, volunteering her time as the president of Swimming Gunnedah Inc, becoming a long-term patron of the Gunnedah Netball Association and vice president of the Gunnedah Eisteddfod Society.

Footprints of her involvement are still imprinted in the community, with the Clare Walker trophy at the Gunnedah Swimming Club and the Clare Walker participation award and encouragement award at the Gunnedah Netball Association.

Her previous studies in speech and working at a Griffith radio station prepared her for the career she had in Gunnedah.

She became well known as a speech therapist and was passionate about teaching children English.

This evolved into preparing children for the speech section in the Gunnedah Eisteddfod in 1962. 

Her passion for English landed her jobs such as news editor, news manager, journalist, speech therapist and speech and drama teacher.

Her attempts to retire were often in vain as she threw herself back into the community when help was needed.

History was made in 1974 when Mrs Walker became the first woman elected as a councillor at Gunnedah.

Her daughters, Susan-Lee and Dixie Walker, recalled how she facilitated change: “Mum was quite happy to work behind the scenes … but when she needed to, she was the speaker,” Susan-Lee said.

Public seating in the main street along with changing facilities for mothers were some of the issues she stood for and quite often alone.

“She had a strong sense of community, to support social justice … she was concerned for all members of the community not just one,” Susan-Lee said. 

“She was a connector of people”.

Mrs Walker served on Gunnedah council for nine years.

Her service to the community was eventually recognised at the age of 84, when she received the Medal of the Order of Australia as a part of the Queen’s Birthday 2000 honours list.

It was presented to her by the Governor-General Gordon Samuels in recognition of more than 50 years involvement in the community.

The citation read: “For service to the community of Gunnedah and district through health, childcare, social support and sporting organisations”.

She received many letters from influential people during the time, including the former Prime Minister John Howard. 

Mrs Walker died in December 2012 at the age of 96 and is still remembered today for her contribution to the Gunnedah community.

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