Tribute to David Clark

Mr CLAYTON BARR ( Cessnock ) ( 17:33 ): For communities to grow and flourish we rely on the commitment and dedication of community-minded people. The Cessnock community was rocked two-and-a-half weeks ago with the sudden and unexpected passing of one of these inspirational people—a gentleman by the name of David Clark. He was, indeed, a gentleman. A lifetime local, David was born in Cessnock and after finishing his formal education at Cessnock High School he took on a fitter and turner apprenticeship at Richmond Main Colliery. David excelled throughout his career in the mining industry, and progressed to the roles of service mine manager and later mine engineering consultant.

However, it was in later life that David’s service and commitment to the community became more prominent. Upon his retirement, David joined the Kurri Kurri Retired Mineworkers Association, where he served as president for almost a decade. It was here that David immersed himself in the local community, raising much‑needed funds for local charities and community causes. David saw his membership of the association as an opportunity to provide a helping hand to those in his community who experienced disadvantage or were low on their luck.

Inspired to make a greater contribution to his town and its residents, David also joined the Rotary Club of Cessnock, where he became an integral part of the club’s activities and programs to support the region’s youth, offer different cultural experiences and expand Rotary’s humanitarian work across the Lower Hunter. David served two terms as president and was involved in other facets of the club’s leadership and direction. David was passionate about Rotary projects that supported and enhanced the Cessnock community, and his guidance and determination in that area saw him awarded a Paul Harris Fellow—One Sapphire—one of the highest recognitions that Rotary International can bestow upon an individual.

David was also instrumental in organising the Cessnock Christian Christmas Lunch, which provides a meal and company for the homeless and those in need on Christmas Day. David saw the festive period as a time of giving and dedicated his Christmas and Christmas Day to spending it with disadvantaged locals to ensure they did not feel alone. Instead, he offered them a happy and harmonious time with others in the church. This just illustrates David’s caring nature—a gentle soul, who offered so much to the Cessnock community.

In 2016 David’s service to the community was publicly recognised when he was named the Cessnock Citizen of the Year. Despite the recognition David received, he remained humble. For him, his service was based purely on helping those in need. In essence, he saw no need for awards and presentations. For David, his volunteer work was a necessary part of being a member of the Cessnock community. David’s funeral was always going to be so big that it needed to be held at the Cessnock Performing Arts Centre. It was attended by a broad spectrum of the local community, which is symbolic of the influence David had on the lives of so many people through his service.

David could have—and maybe some would say should have—served anywhere in the world as a major chief executive officer or leader of a company or organisation. Indeed, as a consultant he travelled all over the world. People engaged him for his knowledge, understanding and brilliance around engineering matters to do with the coalmining industry. In fact, David was seconded to New Zealand when the Pike River coalmining tragedy occurred and claimed a number of lives, and the expertise of someone like David was sought. He could have truly done anything. But the most important thing in his life, the thing he kept returning to and serving was community—not just any community but the Cessnock community. David is survived by his wife, Judy. On behalf of community of Cessnock I extend my deepest sympathies to Judy and her family. Vale, David Clark, you will certainly be missed.