Who is Carol Clay?

Carol Clay taught people how to make sponge cakes. 152916_02

By Shelby Brooks

The mystery surrounding Carol Clay’s fate has grasped thousands of people in the past 20 months since her disappearance.

The 73-year-old’s bright eyes stared back at millions of people across the world as the story of the two missing campers was printed in various international newspapers and online articles including in America, New Zealand, England, Sri Lanka and Israel.

But the crux of the matter remains, who is Carol Clay?

In 2013, Carol was profiled by Gazette reporter Nicole Williams for the edition of 20 March 2013, in the lead-up to the Country Women’s Association’s 85th birthday celebrations.

At that stage Carol had dedicated 13 years to the organisation, two of them as Victorian State President, and went on to contribute locally as a much loved member of the Pakenham branch.

She was nearing the end of her term as Victorian State President of the organisation.

“It has been a most amazing experience, especially to think that a so-called ordinary person can get to do something like this,” she told Nicole Williams.

“In the CWA scheme of things, I’m only a new girl and sometimes there have been people who aren’t happy about that.”

For Carol, the CWA was not an outdated organisation made up of old women knitting and baking scones – although ‘scones have been good to us and they continue to do so’ – but a modern organisation of women looking out for women.

In 2000, Carol said she moved with her family to South Gippsland and it was there that she was first truly introduced to the CWA, when a neighbour dragged her along to a meeting.

“I lived in a community where they had a strong branch but no-one ever asked me to join and I thought that you had to be good at craft to belong – which is urban myth number one, and the other urban myth is you have to live in the country to belong to the CWA. It is for women everywhere; we are women of the country, not country women,“ she said.

What started as a way to meet new people in a new town evolved into something more significant for Carol, but the social aspect was still the main appeal after so many years.

“I have gained confidence and I have met some fabulous people; I have gained friends for life,” she said.

“It is the friends for life that are so wonderful about the organisation.

“I couldn’t believe that it was so different to what I thought. The public perception of CWA is more often than not of old women, craft and scones and it is really not like that at all. There is nothing further from the truth; we are a very vibrant organisation.”

Carol said she was passionate about moving with the times and the modern issues facing women, including domestic violence.

“Domestic violence is so prevalent in society, something has to be done about it,” she said.

“There is a ripple effect, it affects the children, both parties, extended family, and it is a really insidious thing.”

For Carol, who admitted she was not a crafty person, her interest was cooking, and particularly teaching young people valuable skills.

“I have always felt that young people leaving home need to know how to cook. It is all very well knowing fancy recipes but you need basic survival cooking,” she said.

“You need to learn how to be thrifty and economical and make mince go 10 ways!”