Peter ‘Maverick’ Clay
St Anne’s church was filled to overflowing on Saturday, as we came together to say goodbye to our ‘Mav’ at his memorial service on Saturday, 11th July.
Peter died on 20th February, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Church had been closed and there was only able to be a short graveside service then.
As Peter’s friend it was my sad duty, but also an honour and a privilege to deliver a few words as his eulogy.
His family and friends gathered at the Campania — his second home — after the service, and the “Mavaoke“went on until last orders were called.
We are here today, family and friends together, to remember Peter. Father, husband, brother, uncle, brother-in-law, and good friend.
Peter was my friend, and I have to say I was just little nervous to have been asked to write and deliver his eulogy, because I so wanted it to be right. For Peter, and for everyone.
And as many of you know, I couldn’t be with the family on the day of the graveside service, nor be among those who carried him on his last journey because the COVID-19 clinical helpline had told me I should stay at home for 48 hours.
They were right, of course.
That abundance of caution has kept us all safe, and now here we are.
Peter Clay, known as ‘Maverick’ as his father was, or just ‘Mav’, to many of us, was born in the May of 1982 of John and Velma Clay. His two sisters are Vicky and Kimberly.
Peter went to St Anne’s, leaving at 15 to become a trainee carpenter with Jackie Main.
He later worked for James Walker, and attended college in Guernsey, qualifying as a plasterer.
Peter worked in the online gaming industry in its early years for sportingbet.com and after that he spent several years living in England.
He came back home to Alderney in 2012.
Before long, our Maverick found employment at Aurigny, working in its Operations Department.
This was many ways a dream job for Pete, with his love of aviation.
Unfortunately that came to an end when, as we all know, the Aurigny management decided to close down ‘Ops’ here in Alderney and outsource the jobs to England. Peter then went to work for the States of Alderney.
After coming back to Alderney, Mav met Claire, and they were blessed with a daughter, Lacey-Louise. Peter and Claire were married in 2018.
These are Claire’s words.
Although you sleep in heaven now.
You’re not that far away.
My heart is full of memories.
And you are with me everyday.
You lived your life with meaning
And with a smile upon your face.
A world that was full of happiness.
Is now a lonely place.
People say that only time
Will heal a broken heart
But just like me and you
It has been torn apart.
I know you are at peace now
And in a place where you are free
Meet me at the pearly gates
When heaven calls for me.
To everything Peter got involved with, he gave 101% of himself.
When he heard that his elder sister had just got her driving licence, Peter went straight down to the States’ Office and booked his test.
The only thing was, you see, he’d never taken a driving lesson.
In three weeks he learned to drive, passing his test first time.
In his teenage years Mav was involved in fencing, the Alderney militia, the Island band, and clay pigeon shooting.
Mav was a long-serving volunteer at the Alderney Cinema. He first got involved with the cinema at the age of 14, and very quickly became a key member of the team, both as a projectionist and in making sure the technical side of things kept running smoothly.
He was an avid volunteer with Alderney Week and Rock the Rock and of course “Stars in their Eyes”, in which he appeared four times, giving absolutely unforgettable performances as Meat Loaf, Green’s Day’s Billy Jo, Mika and Bruno Mars.
No mention of Peter would be complete without talking about his enthusiasm and love for science fiction and superhero characters, particularly in film. As as all of us who knew him, we can never forget how he was always keen to share that enthusiasm with us all.
And … this started early.
In fact Peter could write “Superman” before he could write his own name, and, at the age of two, he ran around the house writing it everywhere he could.
This is what Lacey-Louise says:
“Daddy, my superman.
I really miss you.
Thank you for the huggles and kisses .
Thank you for playing with me. I had so much fun.
I will always remember the fun times we had.
Me and mummy will love you forever.
You are our guardian angel.
Keep protecting and loving us!
Love to infinity and beyond.”
Were you there to see it, who could forget Peter, and the rest of the Alderney Week team, proudly marching at the front on Cavalcade Day, resplendent in full white Star Wars armour.
And, as Paul Collins, a good friend from the Belle Vue days, once remarked: “Aren’t you just a bit short for a stormtrooper?”
It’s a common archetype in comicbooks and film that every superhero has a secret identity. Peter “Maverick” Clay was, in reality, more than he knew, the identity of one of our own superheroes.
“Soon will I rest, yes, forever sleep. Twilight is upon me, and soon, night must fall. That is the way of things.”
And of course there was, music.
Music was perhaps, one of the most defining parts of Mav’s life.
Not only did Peter, in the days before easy access to YouTube videos, teach himself both the guitar and banjo, but he literally built his own acoustic guitar for himself.
Once completed, he then used that same guitar in his live performance at various pubs around the Island.
I will finish with a personal note of my own.
There are many poems, and readings that help us find comfort when we lose someone close to us, but to me, this one, which is by Joyce Grenfell seems to me to be the most appropriate for Peter.
If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone
Nor when I’m gone speak in a Sunday voice
But be the usual selves that I have known.
Weep if you must
Parting is hell
But life goes on
So . . . sing as well.
-– Joyce Grenfell (1910-1979)