Toby (Charles de Candole) Clay, was born on 25 December 1973 in Bournemouth, the only son of Robin Clay and Susie née de Candole. He was named Toby, because his parents liked the name, and Charles after both his grandfathers.
Toby’s parents moved to Hong Kong as expatriates in September 1976, when Toby was nearly three. Two years later, he started school at Kowloon Junior School, but the first year was not a success, and he was then moved to Boundary Junior School, when his younger sister Annarella started school there. Unfortunately, this was even worse, so in 1980, after a year there, Toby at the age of seven went as a boarder (his parents being then based in Hong Kong) to Dumpton Preparatory School near Witchampton, where his mother’s father was Chaplain. In 1986, Toby went on to Sherborne School, where he was in The Green, following his cousins Rob Clay, see p. 123, and Rawley Clay, see p. 61. Toby was a keen sailor, becoming, in his last year, Secretary of the Sailing Club and Captain of the Second Team, as well as head of the Naval Section of the CCF. He also won the CCF prize. In 1990, Toby went on a gliding course at Yeovilton with the CCF, at the end of which he flew solo for the first time.
That same year, Toby passed GCSE in French (A), Biology (B), Physics (B), Chemistry (B), Geography (B), English Language (B), English Literature (C), Maths (C), and History (C), and in 1992 he took A-level in French (B), History (C), and English (D).
Toby applied to fly with the Royal Navy, and was awarded a Reserved Place at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. However, in order to obtain a degree, he went instead to the University College of the University of Wales in 1992 (Aberystwyth) to read International Politics and Strategic Studies, and graduated (B.Sc. Econ.) 2-1 in 1995. He was a member of the University Air Squadron, and flew solo in Bulldogs.
Knowing that military aviation was his calling, Toby applied to all 3 services. Although initially rejected by his first choice (at the time the Fleet Airm Arm required both pilot and observer "aptitude") and delayed by the RAF, before he had the chance to apply fully to the Army Air Corps the Navy reviewed their entry requirements (insufficient candidates were achieving the full entry criteria under the new rules) and was accepted on 21 December 1995 (his birthday). Between leaving university and joining the Navy in April 1996 he lived in Child Okeford with his mother (his father was working in Turkey), and worked at Compton Abbas Airfield, where he fulfilled all manner of duties from operating the Air to Ground radio to assisting behind the bar and re-fuelling aircraft; during this period he obtained his Private Pilot's Licence (PPL).
Following Officer training at Britannia Royal Naval College, he passed out on 19 December 1996, and then went to RAFC Cranwell until 13 February 1998, having learned to fly Fireflies. A year's tour at RAF Linton-on-Ouse followed, flying Tucanos, and then a year at RAF Valley on Anglesey, flying Hawks. He was awarded his wings by Flag Officer Naval Aviation (RAdm Ian Henderson) at RAF Valley on 29th October 1999. He subsequently transferred to Helicopters, and trained at RAF Shawbury, after which he was posted to the Falklands for three months. Upon his return to Britain in March 2001 he went on a skiing holiday to Courcheval in France, where he met his Rachel, his future wife. Following conversion to the Lynx helicopter Toby was awarded his helicopter wings by RAdm Scott Leadbitter at Yeovilton in December 2001.
In January 2001 Toby was posted to HMS SUTHERLAND for a two-month tour in the Caribbean, and then he flew out to Marmaris in Turkey to join HMS CHATHAM (Capt. The Hon. Michael Cochrane) on her way back to Britain. Toby’s father joined the ship for the Gibraltar – Devonport leg.
On 5th October, 2002 Toby married Rachel Martin at Steep, Petersfield; the reception was held at Theddon Grange.
HMS CHATHAM was deployed to Operation TELIC (the invasion of Iraq) in January 2003, after which she was on patrol in the Indian Ocean until the end of July 2003. Toby’s mother Susie joined the ship for the Lisbon - Devonport leg.
Upon his return from sea, Toby and Rachel entered the Worcester Sprint Triathlon in Droitwich which proved to be the start of a long association with the sport of triathlon.
His final deployment with HMS CHATHAM was once again to the Middle East where he partook in relief operations in Sri Lanka following thwe Boxing Day tsunami of 2004; this event and Toby's role was covered in the BBC TV documentary 'Shipmates'.
Toby and Rachel had two sons:
Oliver (Charles) born in Dorchester Hospital on 24th May 2006.
William (John) born at home at No. 7, Abbott's Way, Crapstone, Devon on 24th July, 2008.
In 2007 Toby was as Staff Warfare Officer (Aviation) to the staff of Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) based in Plymouth, and they took a married quarter in the once-Quaker village of Crapstone, on the edge of Dartmoor.
In September 2009, Toby was posted to the Carrier Strike Group battlestaff, based in Portsmouth, and they moved to No. 86 Woodville Drive, a married quarter in Pembroke Park, Portsmouth. After the carriers were withdrawn following the 2010 defence review, Toby was re-appointed to the Fleet Operational Policy division at Northwood, where he was the RN liaison officer to the Permanent Joint Headquarters and MoD during the Arab Spring of 2011.
In September 2011, Toby was posted back to HMS Heron (RNAS Yeovilton) as the Operations Officer of 815 Naval Air Squadron and they moved their final married quarter, No. 34 Taranto Hill, in Ilchester. After 16 months back on the Squadron, Toby stood up the position of the Lynx Wildcat Maritime Force Operations officer, departing in July 2013 to undertake the Advanced Command and Staff Course at Shrivenham in Oxfordshire. At this time his family moved to Petersfield in Hampshire to establish a permanent home base.
Rachel Martin nee Kayes
Rachel was born on 21st March 1977, the daughter of Barry Kayes and Jenny nee _______. Her parents separated shortly after the birth, and when Rachel was three her mother married John Martin, of Petersfield, Hants, who adopted Rachel. Rachel was educated at Portsmouth High School for Girls and Alton College and then trained as a vet at Bristol University, 1996-1999. Initially working for Shepherds in Bridgend, shortly after meeting Toby she moved to Dorset and worked at Southill Vets in Wincanton. Following the move to Plymouth she was recruited by the PDSA and was able to continue this employment in Portsmouth (Cowplain) once they had moved to Portsmouth.
An ardent speleologist and cyclist, she ________________