About Chele Clarkin
All of us who know Chele Clarkin, know her first love is her family.
And now, with seven grandchildren who all call her “Chele-mere”, she has a busy time keeping up with the loves of her life, even though they mostly live on the other side of the world.
JP Clarkin, New Zealand’s top-ranked polo player, plays professionally in the UK and is married to Nina, the world’s top-ranked woman polo player.
Nina, JP and their children are based in the UK for half each year and half at their Mystery Creek Polo Club.
Matt Clarkin is married to Larissa and has lived in France playing rugby for 15 years – the last six in Bordeaux where he captained the Bordeaux team.
Matt and Larissa and their children are now based in the Basque region, but they love to come down under for a Kiwi summer.
Chele Clarkin’s friendly smile, great sense of humour and warm personality hide dreadful personal tragedies.
In April 1999 Chele’s 19-year-old “burst of sunshine” daughter Emma was killed in a car accident not far from Mystery Creek.
Emma was studying law intending to write her sporting brothers’ contracts, or become a policewoman.
Her family were devasted.
Then, in July 2004, Chele received another dreadful phone call.
Her husband Paul was playing polo in the UK and there had been accident during a match.
Paul was in hospital on life support.
Chele jumped on a plane and flew straight to his side, not realising the doctor had already told JP, who was at the UK polo match, he didn’t think Chele would get there in time.
JP told the doctor: “Dad wouldn’t dare go without Mum’s permission” and he was right - Chele did get to say goodbye to her soul mate of nearly 30 years.
Unbelievably, Chele Clarkin has had to pick up the pieces a third time.
In 2016, her home and everything it it, including all of Emma and Paul’s things and all her precious family photos, burned to the ground.
“It’s not the monetary value, it’s the irreplaceable treasures - our photos, my wedding dress, Paul’s leather jacket I hadn’t been able to part with,” Chele said after the fire.
“On one wall there was a wonderful photo of Paul riding along talking with Prince Charles, next to it was one of JP and Prince William and another of Paul getting his polo prize from the Queen.
“I didn’t know how I could replace all those lost photos.”
Chele had just returned home from a six-week holiday attending her son Matt’s wedding in France, watching JP play polo in England and spending precious time with her grandchildren.
At the time she joked she was grateful her baggage had been lost at Auckland airport.
It was delivered after the fire so at least she had some clothes to wear and the precious family mementos from her travels had survived.
After the fire Chele was overwhelmed by the support she received from family, friends and the wider community: “We had been through a lot together and they basically carried me through one more time.”
Sometimes Chele admits to wondering, why me?
“But most of the time, I know I’m lucky because I have wonderful family, grandchildren, friends and memories and I realise it’s important to make the most of every day.”
Today Chele looks forward to new opportunities.
If she’s not riding her adored hunter “Big Betty”, she’s busy in her wonderful new home and garden at “The Happy Hare”, Mystery Creek, which she shares with her bestie Vicki McVean.
And of course she’s taking to a new level her passion for creating Chele Clarkin Jewellery pieces her clients will always treasure.
The doors of Chele Clarkin Jewellery at “The Happy Hare” on Tarr Road, Mystery Creek, are open.