Winner bunked off class

12th August 2005 at 01:00
It was the day the pubs ran dry. On October 31, 1972 around 20,000 people crammed into Llanelli's Stradey Park to see the Scarlets beat the mighty All Blacks 9-3.

Among the jubilant hordes singing Sosban Fach that day was a young schoolteacher who should have been teaching class.

"I shouldn't really have been there," admits Dr Allan Evans, who retired this summer.

"I may as well come clean - I don't suppose the powers-that-be will dock me a day's wages at this stage of the game."

His absence that day did his career no harm, as this summer he won the Department for Education and Skills innovation unit's award for lifetime achievement in Wales. Dr Evans, 61, headteacher at Queen Elizabeth Cambria comprehensive in Carmarthen, says he is still suffering from shock at winning a Welsh teaching award in the final year of a career that he began as a college lecturer in Bangor back in 1969.

"Right up until my name was read out at the awards ceremony in Cardiff I was thinking what on earth I was doing there. A lot of people out there deserve it just as much, if not more, than me."

Dr Evans's staff, who nominated him for the award, plus his pupils who are so sorry to see him go, will undoubtedly beg to differ. One of the earliest e-learning enthusiasts, Dr Evans has earned praise for sustaining enthusiastic management, clear vision, purpose and sense of direction.

As well as encouraging high academic standards he has been a vigorous proponent of vocational teaching and careers education.

He is also an advocate of strong community links, opening the school to the local senior citizens' lunch club being just one small example.

Having begun as a college lecturer, father-of-two Dr Evans switched to teaching, became a deputy head, then spent five years as a school inspector -"but I got fed up with living out of a suitcase".

He arrived at Queen Elizabeth Cambria in 1983, intending to stay for just three years. Under his leadership, the school has acquired a string of awards and last year he was asked to oversee its impending merger with the neighbouring Queen Elizabeth Maridunum.

Six years ago he began bringing groups of Belarus youngsters affected by Chernobyl radiation on holidays to Carmarthen. "These kids have tumours and cancers and very few live past 30," he said.

"But the World Health Organisation says that a month away, eating nutritious food and breathing clean air, helps to boost their immune systems for up to two years."

A lifelong Scarlets supporter, Dr Evans says he is not looking forward to retirement. " I'm afraid I am yet to be convinced of its value," he admitted. "Some of the most boring people I know are retired."

So did the pubs really run dry on that memorable day? "Oh yes," he replies.

"In fact, they couldn't even find a policeman sober enough to breathalyse the ones they caught."

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