By Carl Llewellyn

Peter Evans was born on July 30th 1942 and was the second child of Frank Thorney and Rachel May Evans. Peter was raised in No 14 Rees Street, Twynyrodyn with his older brother David and younger sister Linda.

Peter was brought up in a close-knit family, with close ties to his mother’s brothers: Emlyn, Christmas, young Davy and also his mother’s sister, Maggie. Peter’s mother originally came  from Penyrhwyl, the upper part Heolgerrig, where Peter and his brother David and sister Linda would have often visited. Peter’s parents were both brought up in the Annibynwyr or Welsh Independent Denomination as Peter’s mother Rachel May attended Salem Chapel, Heolgerrig and his father Frank Evans would have attended Soar Chapel. Peter’s grandfather, David Evans was a faithful member and by trade an organ tuner. Peter, David and Linda attended the Soar Sunday Schoolroom, which is sadly no longer in existence. It is now a housing estate site called Elwyn Drive. I believe Peter’s attendance at Sunday School gave him an introduction to singing.

As a young boy Peter attended Walters Terrace School, Twynyrodyn and in his teenage years he went to Quakers Yard Technical School. This gave him the opportunity to seek engineering as a career, and after leaving school Peter gained an apprenticeship at the ICI company, which at one time covered the whole site of the Merthyr Industrial Estate. After completing his apprentice as a tool maker, the ICI company closed their Merthyr Branch and transferred the company to Thornbury leaving Peter to seek employment elsewhere. Fortunately an opportunity for a position at the HI-MAC factory, Rhymney came up, which Peter gladly accepted and he went on to work there for a number of years. Peter’s next place of employment was the Guest Keen and Nettlefold, Dowlais, where he was given the job as a Time and Motion employee. When I worked as an electrical apprentice contractor I can remember Peter walking around the Ivor Works wearing a white coat and clipboard. With the closure of the Ivor or Guest Keen works and not one to stand on his laurels, Peter finally found work with a company called Parker and Davies, where he held a quite responsible position with a number staff working under him.

One of Peter’s lifelong enjoyments was rugby. He played rugby in school and as a young man he played for the Cefn Coed Rugby Team. After his rugby playing days were over he still took an interest in the sport, and in later years he was regularly invited to the hospitality suite at the Wern, hosted by his very good friend Sir Stanley Thomas OBE, who Peter had known since his younger days. That friendship lasted until Peter’s health deteriorated.

Like most stories about married men: behind every good man there is a better woman. In the early 60′s Peter met Maureen and their relationship became a permanent partnership when they were married at St. Mary’s R.C. Church, Merthyr Tydfil on the 16th January 1965. Their marriage lasted for 53 years, which is a great testament to the love they had for one another. Peter and Maureen were blessed with two sons, Paul and Gareth who were born 18 months apart, making the family complete.

I mentioned Peter’s love of singing. When Peter worked for the Guest Keen, Dowlais, there were a number of Dowlais Male Choir choristers working at the Ivor Works. So in 1974 Peter  was persuaded to join the Choir. He attended a rehearsal and was given a voice test by D.T Davies, who immediately recognised his ability to sing with a rich bass baritone voice. It was in 1974 I joined the Dowlais Male Choir, and in 2014 myself and Peter were privileged to receive our 40 Year’s Service Award in recognition of our loyal and dedicated service to Dowlais Male Choir. The awards were presented by current President Professor Sir Mansel Alyward. When Peter was asked to respond, with his sense of satire he said to Sir Mansel Alyward, “You were given a gong, but I had a Frisbee!”

For 44 years Peter had been a model chorister. He was loyal, dedicated and reliable and before Peter’s illness, he was one of the last choristers to leave Market Square Chapel after rehearsals because he assisted Keith Morgan by putting the chairs back in their original positions. Peter took a keen interest in choir affairs and became the Baritone Section Registrar for quite a number of years and he liked to help new choristers to perfect their singing talents, even if they were not so good. Peter would persevere, although his comments out of ear shot may have been derogatory.

Peter kept up a friendship with one of Dowlais Male Choir’s former Musical Directors – John Samuel and since John’s deterioration in his health, Peter kept in touch and visited him on a number of occasions. A number of years ago Philip Adams and I were discussing who were the smartest dressed choristers in the choir. The first person who came to mind was Perry Williams – always immaculately attired and then we decided Peter Evans, who was always impeccably groomed. No matter what clothes Peter wore they were fitted perfectly and those of us from Merthyr would say, “Peter was like a model in Burton’s shop window.” Since Peter joined the Dowlais Male Choir, his family gave the choir their loyal support. Peter’s mother Rachel May, his Aunt Maggie Pym and Uncle Young Davy were always first to queue up for local concerts; firstly in Bethania Chapel, Dowlais and then later at Rhydycar Leisure Centre.

In all matters regarding the choir Peter was always there with assistance, advice and constructive criticism. Peter was a member of the harmony group ‘The Lifeguards’. His rich sounding voice and serious/comic manner entertained many audiences. In 1979 the Dowlais Male Choir and the Lifeguards combined to perform a musical called “Terraces” written by playwright Alan Osborne about past characters of Merthyr, which Peter appeared in.

However, Peter’s piece de resistance, which he will always be remembered for is his performance in the “Sand dance”, which took place when the Lifeguards and the Dowlais Male Choir combined to put on an Old Thyme Music Hall event at the Miner’s Hall, Church Street in 1981, and then later at the old Catholic Hall, Georgetown. This was where Peter, with former choristers Dai Mantle and Gareth Oates practiced the famous Sand Dance, originally performed by Wilson and Keppel in the 1930′s. It was an hilarious performance with Peter, Dai and Gareth performing in a serious manner with comic dancing.

In later years Peter became interested in Yoga, a routine body maintenance exercise. He did courses and researched the subject of Yoga,resulting in Peter taking classes. Over the years many people attended Peter’s classes, my mother was among them.

Peter had a love for travel and alongside Maureen they travelled to a number of countries. I asked Peter once, “would he have liked to joined Michael Palin on his travels?”. You can imagine Peter’s answer, “Yes of course”. Peter had been on all the choir tours since he joined the Dowlais Male Choir – starting with Luxemburg, USA, Canada, Holland, Brittany, Belgium, France, Northern Cyprus and Bulgaria. When the choir toured Bulgaria, Peter had a nice surprise when his sister Linda and her family travelled from Greece to Bulgaria to be at one of the prestigious concerts in the capital Sophia. For those choristers who toured Bulgaria, no one can forget the “The Shed”, with Stanka the barmaid. It was Peter and Cled who found this primitive hostelry and an incident that Cled Price relayed about the hotel in Bulgaria: “Peter, Cled Price and Gareth Durston were staying in the same room. The shower room included the hand basin but there was handle to change the water from the basin to the  shower, and one night Cled had altered the handle, so when Peter went to wash himself in the morning, instead of the water filling the basin the shower drenched Peter in his pyjamas!”

One excursion Peter and Maureen organised was a visit to Greece in 2004 during the Summer Olympic Games. Peter and Maureen stayed with Peter’s sister Linda.

We’ve had Peter the rugby player, Peter the chorister, Peter the Yoga teacher, Peter the traveler; but Peter was also a keen gardener, and in my eyes a fuchsia expert. As my wife Gretta said, “his vegetable patch was manicured, with straight lines of different vegetables all equal and not out of line. There was never a weed in Peter’s Vegetable  patch.” Peter’s greenhouse was well organised with nothing out of place and he had total pride and joy in his garden. As Maureen related, she liked gardening – especially flowers; but when it came to planting she was not consistent, which in turn drove Peter wild. To resolve this issue, Peter made Maureen a measuring stick to give her some order in her planting. Peter loved fuchsia’ and kept a Fuchsia bible that described every fuchsia plant. If I gave him a fuchsia he’d look it up and read all about it. Most years Peter, Maureen and my wife Gretta and I would  attend the Malvern Three Counties Spring and Autumn show, and no matter how early Gretta and I left Merthyr, Peter and Maureen would always arrive before us.

Peter the family man. Having two sons, Paul and Gareth, it must have been a wonderful addition to the family when Peter’s grand-daughter Beatrice was born, the first girl. Peter loved all five of his grandchildren and since Peter and Maureen’s retirement they have been a constant part of their grandchildren’s lives – helping their sons and their wives/partners by babysitting and although travelling was involved it was still a delight for them. Now would it surprise you that the grandchildren’s pet name for Peter was not Grampy, but Grumpy. It was the case that his grandchildren may have detected a gentle sarcasm in his temperament, however all five grandchildren loved him and have been such a great help to their family over the years. If Peter ever moaned, Maureen would say, “That’s what we are here for Peter.”

At this point in my tribute, I must compliment and acknowledge the role Maureen has played in Peter’s life. She has been a constant support for Peter, and no more evident than when Maureen joined the Dowlais Male Choir Ladies Supporters, becoming a member for 20 years and acting as its secretary for a short time. Maureen also assisted with the care of Peter’s mother Rachel May.

Lastly, the character of Peter Evans. He loved speed. Maureen related, “we were driving one day when I noticed the speedometer was showing 85 miles per hour. I reminded Peter he should slow down; to which Peter replied, “you concentrate on your side of the car and I’ll concentrate on my side!”

Peter was dry witted, sometimes a little outspoken, had a strong opinion and used certain expletives to express his frustration about lack of order. Peter would not hold back if he thought a circumstance was not right and one thing could be said of Peter – he had the gift for giving an abrasive retort. But he was also a unique character and complete individual, whose quips and dry witticism will be sadly missed. Peter was loyal and dedicated in whatever interest he pursued.

I’ll end my eulogy by saying like many of us who are here this afternoon, we’re glad to have known Peter for his camaraderie, his humour and his friendship. And it must give Peter’s wife Maureen, his sons Paul and Gareth, his grandchildren Beatrice, Alice May, Nancy May, William and Josh, his brother David and his sister Linda, his son’s spouses Jayne and Sharon comfort that the support here today is a testimony to his character, and demonstrates how much Peter’s personality touched so many people. May he now rest from his labours, be free from pain and find eternal peace.

 

Share With:

delicious digg facebook reddit twitter stumble upon