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Colin, 89, to make big birthday splash for Tŷ Hafan

Colin Evans, at home in Penarth, age 89

Many people approaching their 90th birthday might plan a quiet day with perhaps some gentle celebrations. Not so Penarth’s illustrious Colin Evans!

For Colin, who will celebrate his 90th birthday on May 14, is planning to mark this milestone by swimming a mile for Tŷ Hafan Children’s Hospice in under an hour.

“It was my daughter Jill who told me about Tŷ Hafan,” says Colin, former Head of Sir Thomas Picton School in Haverfordwest, who was awarded an OBE for his services to education in 1989.

Colin Evans at Buckingham Palace after having received his OBE for services to education in 1989.

“She lives in the States but when she visits us she always spends some time as a volunteer at Tŷ Hafan.

“My wife, Audrie, and I are blessed with eight grandchildren and we are now great-grandparents.

“They are all healthy. My father, Emlyn, used to say to me: ‘Colin, you’ve got plenty of ability – don’t waste it.’

““I don’t know how I would cope if I was told that one of my children was not going to live.

“So to on my 90th birthday I’ve decided to swim a mile with a smile, and hopefully complete it in just one hour.”

Colin says he has always prized physical fitness. Born in West Wales to a Welsh speaking family, he studied Geography at Aberystwyth University before a two year commission in the RAF.

After finishing National Service, Colin then taught Geography at Cardigan Grammar School, while playing rugby for Gorseinon Rugby Club alongside Malcolm Halfpenny, grandfather of Tŷ Hafan  Ambassador and former Welsh rugby international Leigh.

Colin Evans lines up in Gorseinon RFC team photo. Colin is standing fifth from the left while Malcolm Halfpenny, grandfather of Leigh Halfpenny, is seated far left.

A move to Bishop Wordsworth School in Salisbury then saw Colin play prop for Bath Rugby Football Club between 1962 and 1965.

“I loved playing rugby but I don’t recall ever being taught to swim,” says Colin. “Growing up in Goodwick on the coast, it was just something I could always do. I’ve always swam regularly. But more recently I have reduced my schedule to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.”

Colin, the former Area Education Officer for Pembrokeshire, retired in 1989 after eleven years as Head of Sir Thomas Picton School in Haverfordwest.  Now a regular at Penarth Methodist Church, and never one to shirk from a challenge, Colin has overcome the six month closure of his local pool at Cogan for renovations with aplomb.

“I actually did my first swim in six months the other day,” he said. “I didn’t know how I was going to do but I’m pleased to say that I managed 50 lengths in an hour, so not too bad at all.

“On my birthday itself I am aiming to do 64 lengths in an hour, which at 25 meters a length, will equate to a mile.

“I had wonderful parents,” says Colin, “I married a wonderful woman and I had wonderful kids. There are so many children out there who need help. Now I want to give something back.”