Inspiring people at The Settlement

This is a copy of a post on the Settlement website from March 2016. Roy has not only supported the Settlement, but the Players AmDram activities over many years and is well deserving of a second publication of this feature. Thank you Roy.

This is the second in a series of features about the inspiring people that give The Settlement such a great personality. This time the focus is on Roy Evans who has given five decades of loyal service and support to the one of the few surviving independent adult education centres left in the country.

Behind every smooth running organisation you inevitably find a number of key people whose positive contribution help to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Roy Evans is one such person. Since his journey with The Settlement began in 1963, the father of two has devoted countless hours to helping make one of the last surviving independent adult education centres a successful base for supportive and inspirational learning.

After a spell teaching history, Roy put away his chalk rubber and became Warden, living at The Settlement and providing round the clock support to the building, its management, members and visitors.

“When I first came to The Settlement everything was focused around evening activities compared to now when much of the business takes place during the day. Day time activities were very limited indeed” explained Roy.

Clearly able to juggle many different tasks at once, Roy spent most evenings ensuring classrooms were ready, equipment was in place and that students knew where they needed to be. “The evenings were a mad rush compared to the quiet of the day which enabled me to complete paperwork and all the administration that was required to maintain The Settlement” he added.

His demanding days were spent doing the vast variety jobs that were required which ranged from front of house for Settlement Players productions to maintenance and gardening work. Attendances at events were often remarkable, not least for the annual Letchworth Little Theatre Drama Festivals with up to 180 people coming on the Saturday evening. Also of note were the stimulating John Armitage Memorial Lectures based on the theme of ‘Quality of Life.’

When Roy was first appointed the rear of The Settlement was still an Orchard and he was involved in the projects that led to the building of the Spinks and Cruse rooms which started in 1975. These rooms were used for upholstery and dress making classes which were led by Barbara Boardman and Barbara Raines respectively.

It wasn’t until 1976 that Roy and his young family moved from living above the shop to living across the road.

The visitor footprint in the sixties and seventies was different to today and Roy would find himself setting up the rooms for local Trade Union groups such as the GMB and Woodworkers plus other small group meetings on a monthly

Roy’s unstinting support to the Settlement did not come to an end when he retired in 2000. He focused on helping in a voluntary capacity attending to ‘locking up’ duties and pitching in with jobs and support whenever required.

“The Settlement has a great atmosphere it feels unique and very special to me. The concept of access to adult education is so important and over the years The Settlement has helped thousands of people realise their potential or achieve something personally important to them,” said Roy who has also been heavily involved in organising visits and trips on behalf of The Settlement.

About to retire from the world of official volunteering Roy is planning his last escorted trip on behalf of the Settlement on April 13th. His swansong is a visit to Stratford Upon Avon to see Don Quixote at The Swan Theatre.

Pam Burn, who is chair of the Management Committee said: “Throughout its history The Settlement has enjoyed the good-will and support of many people but without doubt Roy’s contribution has been exceptional. His commitment and loyalty personify what is great about Letchworth Settlement and on behalf of the Management Committee and the operations team I want to thank Roy for his dedicated and selfless contribution for more than five decades.

“I have no doubt that whilst he may be retiring from his formal voluntary work with us he will still be a familiar figure about the place.”