Mrs Emily Yarwood was Lady Mayoress of the City of Adelaide (married to the Lord Mayor) from 2010-2014.

Early Life and Career

Born 29 July 1973, Emily grew up in the north-eastern suburbs of Adelaide with her parents, Northern Ireland immigrants who moved to Adelaide as teenagers. Despite being an only child, a close extended family network of Irish decent shaped her upbringing as a first generation Australian. Her childhood memories are of summers on the River Murray and week nights and weekends spent training and competing; first as a ballet dancer then later as a highly talented Irish Dancer at the national level.

Emily attended both St Aloysius College and St Ignatius College and has a Bachelor in Commerce from the University of South Australia. An accountant by profession, she is defined by her peaceful and gentle nature that is calming to all that enjoy her company. Via her social network, she first met Stephen Yarwood at a Tour Down Under event in the summer of 2005.  Their connection was immediate and it was not long before they were dating and deliberating on their future together. Their ambitions were highly compatible; she wanted to be a mother and make a positive contribution to society whilst he wanted to make a difference to Adelaide and cities around the world. They are admired, by those that know them well, for being a well-organised, loving and productive partnership who almost never disagree.

Soon they were living just minutes’ walk from the Adelaide Central Markets and not long afterwards financed and implemented their first council election campaign, with Stephen running the Council’s newly defined “Central Ward”.  Not long after celebrating their first election success they married at the Adelaide Town Hall.  Emily welcomed a son Oliver Yarwood (25th April 2009) into the world a year later adding to the family that already consisted Stepdaughter Megan Yarwood (19th July 1995) whilst Stephen was serving as Deputy Lord Mayor.


2010 was a big year in the Yarwood household. Financed by themselves, and at the staggering odds of 15 to 1, they embarked on the goal of providing a progressive and modern voice for Adelaide’s future. Stephen pounded the footpaths for months on end whilst Emily worked, parented and provided the logistical engine to a now historical win that made them the youngest couple to hold the position of Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress in Adelaide’s history. Stephen has always publically acknowledged Emily as the secret to their success, yet she never sought the limelight nor recognition for the win or subsequent achievements of a Council term that has since received national and international acclaim. Emily was of the belief that it was not about her or Stephen, but the community they were given the opportunity to serve.

She expressed these values in the way she treated her demanding new role.  A woman in her mid-30s with modern day commitments, she loyally supported not only Stephen, but a young child, teenage stepdaughter and maintained a successful career of her own. Her interpretation of being the Lady Mayoress was not as a full time commitment entailing social events and committees, but instead being a devoted wife and mother with the ability to support the people around her to achieve their best. The couple’s determination to make a difference with the opportunity they had was clearly evident. Stephen was out most nights of the week, often interstate and sometimes overseas. This meant limited support for parenting and household duties, which were a commitment she happily made for the privilege they had been offered.

However, a close knit family and Stephen’s daughter Megan were constant sources of unquestioning support and Emily was a visible and active participant at events in the Town Hall and the community. As toddler Oliver was also regularly spotted at community events, which ensured the family had as much time together as possible during a period when time was the most precious commodity. It was at these events that she met numerous interesting people; The Dalai Lama, Julia Gillard, John Howard, national and international sports stars and leaders of cities and states from around Australia and the world. While being Lady Mayoress she had the privilege of visiting Perth, Hobart, Qingdao, London, Vienna, Penang and Singapore and often had experiences that money simply could not buy.

More importantly to Emily, she was inspired by her local community in a way that has had a lasting effect on her. She met countless people who continue to give much of themselves to make a difference to Adelaide and its future without fanfare or fuss. It is these people that she most relates to and still greets today with a friendly smile on the streets, in the Central Market and at local events the couple still attend. Emily treated the role of Lady Mayoress with respect and dignity and was highly regarded as approachable by all.  Whilst consciously avoiding media attention as a quiet and unassuming person, she served as the Parton of the National Council for Women in SA and Tutti Kids and continues her contributions to Save the Children and supports the Sunrise Children’s Association in Nepal by preparing their annual financial reports.

As a younger Lady Mayoress she knew it was a wonderful opportunity to learn something new every day. It has helped craft her into a woman of substance; a woman that understands more about leadership, community diversity, how cities evolve and the inner workings of Local, State and Federal Politics.  It has crystallised who her sincere friends are and the things she values in her community.

Personal Note

More than ever Emily is aware that local government is not just about rates, roads and rubbish, but is a complex system that requires good leadership and collaborative guidance from all participants for it to realise its potential.  Emily is of the firm belief that it was never about the Lord Mayor, nor the Lady Mayoress, but about the city and the community’s future. 

The secret to her success is humility, respect, tolerance and a partnership with a soul mate with identical values. Emily is deeply proud of her husband’s hard work and dedication to a city they both adore. She believes the romance they have had as a couple, and with the city they both adore, is the stuff of fairy tales. It’s a fortunate life with no regrets and many more adventures to come.  

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