12 Sep 2008 12:13 PMJann Stuckey

12 September 2008

Member for Currumbin Jann Stuckey MP has paid tribute to the late Fr Ben Clarke of Bilinga  in a moving speech in State Parliament. 

Ms Stuckey was among a large crowd at the funeral for Fr Ben at St Peter’s Anglican Church, Coolangatta on Monday.  Fr Ben retired to the Southern Gold Coast in 1986 but his retirement was a labour of love.  He voluntarily undertook planned giving programs for 35 parishes throughout Queensland and became a “gypsy” priest for about 15 years.

Ms Stuckey said Fr Ben would be remembered as a truly remarkable man, a living treasure, one whose actions had brought a new dimension to the term “community service”.

She said:  “Fr Ben served the Currumbin RSL as padre for 20 years, moving all in attendance at the nationally acclaimed dawn service at Elephant Rock, Currumbin, with his skilful speeches that touched hearts and reminded us all of the enormous sacrifice made by those who fought for our country to be free.”

“Fittingly, Ben was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in recognition of his voluntary services in 2003 which also included 20 years as a Rotarian.

“For the past five years St Peter’s Anglican Church has transformed when Wintersun comes to town, and this little church literally rocks with the sounds of Johnny O’Keefe and pals of that era. People are packed like sardines and stream out onto the streets. Father Ben is up the front in his waistcoat covered in guitars rocking along with everyone.

“His ability to connect with people, his wisdom, advice and friendship I will carry in my heart forever. When I met him I knew I had encountered a special friend and like countless others will miss him dearly”.