Following in footsteps of Flinders

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There may appear to be no connection between Commander Martin Clegg (56) of Spalding and maritime legends such as Captain James Cook, Sir Francis Drake and Captain Matthew Flinders.

But the Northumberland-born Royal Navy hydrographic surveyor, trained to measure the physical features of the sea, can lay claim to having discovered a previously unknown area of the Falkland Island now called Clegg Rock.

Mr Clegg said: “I was a junior surveyor on a ship chartering around the Falklands Islands when a lot of the area was badly chartered.

“We were there for two years on a ship called HMS Hecla updating the physical feature of the area at an early stage in my hydrographic career.

“I discovered a previously unchartered rock which was named Clegg Rock and one of the nice things about it was the fact that I was actual doing what I was trained to do.

“I found the thrill of just being at sea wonderful because of the wildlife, the colours, the waves and the weather.”

Mr Clegg’s 34-year career in the Royal Navy and Royal Naval Reserves (RNR) may never have happened without some wise words from his father who challenged him to “see a bit of the world”.

“As a teenager, I was thinking of what I might want to do with my life,” Mr Clegg said.

“My father and grandparents had all been teachers so I always thought that something along those lines was in the stars for me.

“But my father said ‘you have to go out and see a bit of the world’ and one of the ways of doing that was to join the Royal Navy.

“I thought it would give me more of an opportunity to go out and see the world and I ended up having a long career in it.”

The only occasion when Mr Clegg experienced armed conflict was the Falklands War of 1982 while aboard HMS Hecla when it was used as a hospital ship for wounded soldiers.

Mr Clegg said: “We didn’t see a lot of the fighting in the Falklands but as the war progressed, we were moved closer in and we could see the explosions on the mainland.

“Throughout that period, we didn’t know what was going on and the only news we got was what we heard on the BBC World Service.”

After spells working in the North and South Atlantic, Hong Kong where he met his wife, former Spalding High School student Mary Clegg, and the Ministry of Defence under former First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Nigel Essenhigh, Mr Clegg became Commanding Officer of HMS Sherwood RNR, Nottingham.

“I was Commanding Officer for five years, having been with the unit for four years before that, so I really became part of the family.

“But if I could wind the clock back 30 years, I’d do what I’ve done all over again.”