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From GirlGUiding UK
CELEBRATING A GUIDING LIFE
Born on April 16, 1917, Betty was the third and youngest child of Lord and Lady Baden-Powell. She had the same mannerisms, enthusiasm and inflections of voice as her mother, but was loved for herself and for the varied work she did for both Guiding and Scouting.
Working her way through the Movement, Betty became a Brownie, Guide, Ranger, Guider and Commissioner, as well as a busy wife and mother. Betty always described herself as 'ordinary' and could identify herself completely with the girls in the units, their Guiders and their parents.
The fundamentals of guiding were what mattered to Betty and she was happiest with the basics - the outdoors, the Patrol system, the fun and, of course, the adventures.
Her own childhood was a happy one. She was educated at Westonbirt, Gloucestershire and St James', West Malvern, and went on to train in secretarial work. In 1934 she joined her parents and elder sister Heather on a world tour, visiting Guides and Scouts in the Far East, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA.
Betty's 'Be prepared' training must have stood her in good stead for living in the African bush and bringing up her four children -Gillian, Robin, Nigel and Crispin - in hard conditions. In 1950 she became active in guiding again, serving as Acting District Commissioner, Commissioner for African Guides, Colony Commissioner and Division Commissioner. She was awarded the Beaver in 1963 for outstanding service to the Movement.
When the family all returned to England in 1964, Betty continued her guiding work, both locally and nationally. She was Division Commissioner for Taunton and Deputy Chief Commissioner for England. When England was divided into Regions in 1970, Betty became President for South West England until 1991. She was President of the Trefoil Guild from 1989 to 1994 and was a founder member of the Olave BadenPowell Society, for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, which was set up in 1985.
Through Betty, the link with Lord and Lady Baden-Powell was kept alive for millions of young people and adults throughout the world. For that great service and for her own special qualities of simplicity, humility, practicality and generosity, we will be forever grateful.
It was with deep regret in late April that The Scout Association and GirlGuidingUK announced the death of their Vice President, the Hon Mrs Betty Clay CBE.
Scouting and Guiding was Betty's life. Unselfish, warmhearted and friendly, she was a very special link with her muchloved parents for millions of people, young and old, who had never met them.
Born on April 16th 1917, Betty St Clair Baden-Powell joined Peter and Heather to complete Robert and Olave Baden-Powell's family. Her childhood was immensely happy; she especially enjoyed being a Brownie, riding, swimming, walking and looking after her pets. Educated at St James' School, West Malvern, where she joined the school Guide company, Betty later trained as a secretary. She travelled with her parents on goodwill cruises to visit members of the Scouts and Guides Movements in the Baltic and Mediterranean countries then, with her sister Heather, accompanied them on a world tour, meeting Scouts and Guides in the bar East, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA.
In 1936, on hoard ship returning from South Africa. Betty met Gervas Clay in an coincidental re-enactment of her parents' first encounter. It must have been even more amazing for the young couple to learn that, like Betty's famous parents, they shared a birthday. Gervas and Betty were married on September 24th 1936 made their home in Northern Rhodesia until 1964, when they moved to an old house with a beautiful garden at Wiveliscombe, Somerset. They had three sons and one daughter.
She became Vice President of The Scout Association in 1989. Betty's List of awards is impressive. In 1984, The Scout Association gave her its highest award, the Silver Wolf, and in 1993, Betty became the second recipient of the honorary leadership training award, the Gilwell Wood Badge. The first recipient had been her mother. In 1995, Betty was presented with the Guide Association Silver Fish award in the unusual form of a brooch. Betty's unique service to Scouting and Guiding was recognised, in 1997, with the award of a CBE in the Queen's New Year Honours. In 1999, World Scouting honoured Betty with its only award, the Bronze Wolf, a highly prestigious achievement.
Betty was never without a home projects. She was a meticulous and faithful correspondent all her life and never failed to answer letters and cards, which she kept in wonderful huge scrapbooks, together with photographs, programmes and every possible e form of memorabilia. The current scrapbook on which she was working would always be open on a table in the guest bedroom, where she would try her best keep the record up to date. When The Trefoil visited Betty in 1997, just before her 80th birthday, she pointed out the dozens of books with enormous pleasure and said cheerfully, `l'm doing well - I'm only about three years behind at the moment!'
Betty spoke with enormous pride of her parents and their outstanding contribution to young people's lives. `I feel immensely privileged to have been their daughter,' she said. `They were marvellous parents and I've had the most wonderful life: In 1979, in The Guider (later Guiding), she wrote, `It can be given to very few families to be loved by millions of people of many nations'. She was referring in her usual unselfish way mainly to her parents but the sentiment is true today of Betty herself. She was loved not just by her family and close friends but by countless people all over the world, not the least those in the UK Trefoil Guild. She will be very much missed by us all.
The Hon. Betty St. Clair Clay, C.B.E.
of ElliscombePark, Higher Holton
16th April 1917 - 24th April 2004
The funeral service was held at 3:30 pm on 5th May 2004 at the Parish Church of St. John the Baptist, North Cheriton, for The Honourable Betty St. Clair Clay, C.B.E. of Elliscombe Park, Higher Holton, the Rector of Camelot, Rev. John Angle, conducted the service and gave the address, and Rev. Graham Owen, Rector of Wiveliscombe, led the prayers. Mr. John Matthew was the organist. The private family funeral was followed by private cremation at Yeovil Crematorium at 10:30 am. on 6th May and private interment at the Parish Church of St. John the Baptist, North Cheriton, at 4:30 pm. the same day.
The Hon Mrs Betty Clay, CBE, Vice President of the Scout Association and youngest daughter of the first Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell, the Founder of the Scout and Guide Movement, died peacefully at Elliscombe House, on Saturday morning 24th April 2004, just a few days after she and her husband Gervas had celebrated their joint birthday - her 87th and his 97th.
An appreciation by the Chief Scout and the Chief Guide
Betty Clay died on Saturday morning, 24th April 2004, just a few days after her 87th birthday. For us all who sincerely mourn her loss it is the real closing of a chapter and the severing of what must be one of the last very real links with our Founder and Olave, Lady Baden-Powell.
Born on 16th April 1917, Betty was their third and youngest child and was closely involved in both Scouting and Guiding all her life. She acted as assistant to her mother and father on many of their world tours but her personal contribution to both Movements went far beyond the demands of family connection. Perhaps her greatest role, as well as her pride and pleasure, was to keep alive in the thoughts of successive generations of members of the Scout and Guide Movements the memories of her parents. How many hundreds of times must she have heard after one of her talks ‘It was just like hearing your mother speak’, for she had the same mannerisms, enthusiasm and inflections of voice. But she was in her own right ‘Betty’, loved and admired for herself and the dedication she brought to her varied work for both Movements through the years and in many places.
Her own childhood was full of ‘ordinary’ happiness – picnics, learning to ride, swimming, looking after pets, all in the company of Peter and Heather, her older brother and sister and the ever expanding number of people who visited the Chief Scout and the World Chief Guide. Enrolled as a Brownie in her youth, Betty’s early education was at Westernbirt, Glos., and then St. James's School, West Malvern where she joined the school Guide Company. Later she trained in secretarial work. In 1934 -1935 she and her older sister Heather joined their parents on a world tour visiting Scouts and Guides in the Far East, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States of America, having already travelled with them in previous years on the Goodwill Cruises to visit members of the two Movements in the Baltic and the Mediterranean.
Much of her life was spent outside England, for in May 1936 while returning by ship with the her parents from South Africa, she first met Gervas Clay, who was a District Commissioner in the Colonial Service in of the Barotseland Protectorate [part of what was then Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia], returning to England on leave. Her parents had met on board ship, and shared a birthday; so when Betty met, on board ship, a man who shared her birthday, his fate was sealed. Betty and Gervas married in the village church near her parents’ home at Bentley on 24th September 1936 and returned to live in Northern Rhodesia until 1964.
Her Guide training and the Scout motto ‘Be prepared’ must have constantly stood her in good stead, living in the African bush and bringing up four children in hard conditions. And like so many parents before her and since, she was a Cub Scout Leader for a time following the anguished appeal from her own son who was afraid the Pack would close because the current leader was leaving. In Guiding, she served not only as a Guider, but simultaneously progressively as Acting District Commissioner, Division Commissioner, Commissioner for African Guides, and finally as Colony Commissioner. She held a Camper’s Licence, a Guide and Camp Training Certificate and, for the last two years of her time in Northern Rhodesia, she was adviser for Training in that country.
When they returned to England in 1964 Betty and Gervas found a comfortable home with a large rambling garden at Wivelscombe, near Taunton, Somerset. Locally and nationally she continued her work for Guiding becoming Division Commissioner for Taunton and Deputy Chief Commissioner for England. She always contributed that welcome spice of down-to-earth-iness and simplicity to discussions that might tend to become high flown and tinged with jargon. Her home-making qualities and love of a family atmosphere spilled over into her Guiding life and hundreds of people enjoyed the warmth of her hospitality and her genuine welcome, however busy she might be.
In Scouting’s 60th year she unveiled the memorial stone on BrownseaIsland to her father’s experimental camp. Betty returned there several times, the last being in 1998 to take part in a video that was used to support The Scout Association’s successful bid to host the 2007 World Scout Jamboree. She herself was no stranger to Jamborees, having attended several, including the fourth held in Hungary in 1933 and the sixteenth held in Australia in 1987.
When Guiding in England was divided into regions in 1970 she became President for South West England, a position she held until 1991 and in 1978 she was appointed a Vice-President of The Guide Association. In addition she was President of the Trefoil Guild from 1989 to 1994 and a founder member of the Olave Baden-Powell Society in 1985. Because of her unique and valued place in Guiding the Guide Association presented her in 1995 with a special version of its Silver Fish award in the form of a brooch.
She was awarded the Silver Wolf in 1984, The Scout Association’s highest award for good service, became a Vice-President of the Association in 1989 and in1993 became only the second person ever to have been awarded an honorary Gilwell wood badge [the first being her mother].
In 1997 her unique services to Scouting and Guiding were recognised with the award of the CBE in Her Majesty the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.
On the world level, Mrs. Clay was awarded the Bronze Wolf in 1999. It is the only award of the World Organization of the Scout Movement and it is given in recognition of outstanding service by an individual to the World Scout Movement. She was a member of the World Baden-Powell Fellowship, as is her husband.
Until 2000, she continued to accompany Gervas to the annual Gilwell Reunion held each September for holders of Scouting’s wood badge. At the Reunion in 1993 she happily operated the controls of a JCB to commence work on the refurbishment of the White House, the Georgian house at the centre of the Gilwell estate.
She was honoured by the Queen in being invited to review the Parade of Queen’s Scouts at Windsor in 2000. It proved a memorable occasion as rather than stop every now and again to converse with holder of the Queen’s Scout Award, Betty kept a conversation going with each and every young person on parade that day, even in the second and third ranks.
In the year 2000 she was guest of honour at Guiding’s World Camp to celebrate the millennium. At that camp she transmitted her belief with great conviction that young women can make a difference in every aspect of society.
Even in her last years when her health was failing she continued by letter and telephone call to inspire and motivate people. Camp, events, meetings, Jamborees – Scouting and Guiding were Betty’s life. She was as at ease chatting with the King of Sweden as she was with the youngest Brownie.
In an article on ‘Thinking Day’; for the ‘Guider’ magazine in 1978, Betty wrote: “It can be given to very few families to be loved by millions of people of many nations”, looking back to the days of the Founder and the World Chief Guide and of herself, Peter and Heather, as they grew up in that unique family, sharing Scouting and Guiding with the world. Betty continued that completely unselfish, warm-hearted, sharing all her life and through the link with her parents kept them ‘alive’ for millions of young people and adults who had never seen them.
For that great service and for her own special qualities of simplicity, humility, practicality and generosity, members of the Scout and Guide Movements will be forever grateful.
Apart from her Guiding activities, Betty was also very fond of amateur dramatics, taking part in many productions of the Livingstone Amateur Dramatic Society. She was a “pillar of the Church”, and also a keen gardener.
When her children were away from home, Betty never failed to write them a weekly letter, even long after they had married and left home. Always keen to try anything and live life to the full, Betty also kept a comprehensive scrap-book record of the family, and took a great interest in her grand-children and great grand-children, encouraging them to be adventurous and self-sufficient, and for whom she even climbed trees in her late sixties, and once, when over seventy, even demonstrated standing on her head.
Mr. G. Clay (Husband);
Bill and Gill Clay (Daughter);
Robin and Susie Clay (Son, also rep. Annarella Clay (Grand-daughter));
Nigel Baden-Clay (Son, also rep. The Family);
Rachel Clay (Grand-daughter-in-law, also rep. Toby Clay (Grandson));
Ewart and Daphne Schofield (Grand-daughter);
Berry Schofield (Great grandson);
Ossian Schofield (Great grandson);
Eric Clay (Grandson, also rep. Crispin (son) and Orti Clay);
Lord and Lady Baden-Powell (Nephew);
Mr. and Mrs. R. A. Clay (Brother-in-law);
Mary and Ian MacDonald-Watson (Niece by marriage);
Simon Readhead (Great-nephew by marriage);
Mr. Robert Clay (Nephew by marriage);
Jeremy and Susan Clay (Cousin by marriage);
Robin and Bridget Fairlie (Cousin by marriage);
Michael Clay (Cousin by marriage);
Mr. M. J. Gent;
George and Libby Renwick;
Ruth Sara (Chief Commissioner, South West England, Girl Guides);
Jean Eburne (President, South West England, Girl Guides);
Mrs. Ann Beable;
Mrs. Brenda Bickerton;
Audrey and Denis Smith (Scouting);
Rev. Norman Green;
Paul Moynihan (Headquarters Scouts, Somerset Scouts);
Peter Bourner (Headquarters Scouts, Somerset Scouts);
Caroline Jollands (Cousin by marriage, also rep. The Family);
Pam Genton (Castle Cary District Guides);
Liz Bowyer (Castle Cary District Guides);
Beryl Griffin (Wincanton and Castle Cary Trefoil);
Joan Smith (Wincanton and Castle Cary Trefoil);
David Theobald (Ringer);
Jane Jeanes (Divisional Commissioner for Cadbury);
Mary Bassett (ElliscombePark);
Anthea Illingworth (ElliscombePark);
Sheila Pemberton (ElliscombePark);
Samantha Desmond (ElliscombePark);
Gareth Davies (CountyCommissioner for Somerset and also rep. The Lord Lt. Lady Elizabeth Gass);
Mrs. R. Freeland (ElliscombePark);
Mr. J. R. W. Parker (ElliscombePark);
Ian Browne (ElliscombePark);
Chris Jones (District Commissioner);
Yvette Bowler (Carer);
Peter Divall (Yeovil District Scouts);
Gemma Divall (Yeovil District Scouts);
George Purdy (Chief Scout);
Jenny Leach (Chief Guide);
Denise King (Chief Executive Guides Association);
Derek Twine (Chief Executive Scouts Association);
John Asplin (Chairman of the Scouts Association);
Edith Webb (SomersetCounty President Guides);
Janet Tilley (rep. Guiding Somerset, Retired CountyCommissioner);
Dr. and Mrs. R. W. Spencer (ElliscombePark);
Mrs. Jill Turner (also rep. Diana Hopcroft);
Mrs. Heather Catchpole (also rep. Mr. Brian Catchpole, Mrs. Clare Simmonds and Pat Morrant),
Lady Farrington (also rep. The family);
Mrs. B. Rowe (also rep. The family);
The Very Revd and Mrs. R. Wingfield-Digby;
Dinnis Neal (also rep. Frances);
Debra Fox (nee Winter);
Mrs. Jeannette Jenkins (Carer);
Jenny Hearne (ElliscombePark).
Unable to attend:
Crispin and Orti Clay (son);
Toby Clay (grandson);
Annarella Clay (grand-daughter);
Gerard and Allison Baden-Clay (grandson);
Ian and Olivia Walton (grand-daughter);
Adam Baden-Clay (grandson);
Michael and Joan Baden-Powell (nephew);
Wendy Baden-Powell (niece);
Hugo and Natasha Meynell (grand-niece)
The funeral arrangements were carried out by Harold Miles, funeral director, Winton Cottage, Folly Lane, South Cadbury, BA22 7ES.
There were no flowers, by request. Donations in memory of Betty were given to the Scouting and Guiding Associations.
Page Last Updated - 30/07/2009