CUMBRIAN rural stalwart Olive Clarke has been honoured by one of the county’s major pressure groups.

The well-known figure across both Cumbria and Westmorland, was presented with a certificate and flowers at the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) Cumbria Branch AGM at Levens Hall, near Kendal.

Born in 1922, Olive, of Kaker Mill Farm in Preston Patrick near Milnthorpe, has had a life-long commitment to rural issues across Cumbria, by being actively involved in various public and organisational roles.

Olive came to prominence in Westmorland in her role as first local chairman and then county chairman of the Women’s Institute.

Having been involved with the Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs for more than 80 years, she became its first female chairman, and was the first person to be made honorary life vice-president in 2013.

She has also been a member of the CLA for nearly 50 years, serving in various roles, initially as a committee member for Westmorland and Furness in the 1980s, before being elected as chairman, and subsequently branch president. In addition, serving as a CLA council member from 1984-1988.

In 1994, she was awarded an OBE for her role in saving the Settle to Carlisle railway, as a member of the North West England Transport Consultative Committee, and later appointed as chairman of this group, and chairman of the Settle to Carlisle Inquiry. Other public service roles included being a magistrate, county and parish councillor.

Paying tribute to Olive, CLA director general Sarah Hendry said: “It was an honour to recognise Olive for her long and distinguished track record in Cumbria and beyond, especially for breaking new ground for women in the rural sector.

“Olive’s commitment to the CLA has been outstanding over the years, and the fact that she is only now resigning as CLA Cumbria branch committee member at the age of 97 is testament to her utter dedication.”

CLA director north, Dorothy Fairburn, added: “Olive’s passionate and determined attitude is well recognised in Cumbria and beyond, and she is a true ambassador for the countryside.

“She has made a real and lasting impact on the lives of individuals and communities across Cumbria.

“Her interest in legislation affecting the countryside, coupled with her ability to meaningfully contribute to discussions and decisions made her a much loved and respected personality within the CLA.”

The CLA Cumbria Branch’s new president is its outgoing chairman, John Turner, from Lonsdale Settled Estates (Penrith).