Tributes have been paid to a modest hero with a heart of gold who saved two people’s lives – one from a house fire and the other from a raging flood.
Father-of-two Phil Evans, who worked as a caretaker for housing association Cartrefi Conwy in Llanrwst, passed away suddenly – just days before his 69th birthday.
He leaves his wife, Rose, 68, their two sons, Rodney, 48 and Steven, 47, along with four grandchildren and two step grandchildren.
The couple had known each other since they were nine years old and were due to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary next year.
Phil’s funeral service was held at the crematorium in Colwyn Bay on Monday (May 18).
Colleagues from Cartrefi Conwy’s property maintenance team created a guard of honour with several vans lining the route to the crematorium where the number of mourners was limited to 18 due to the coronavirus restrictions.
Many of the devastated residents of the Glanrafon Flats and Scotland Street had also hoped to pay their last respects but were unable to do so because of the lockdown.
As well as being a Good Samaritan who always went above and beyond the call of duty, Phil was also something of a local hero thanks to his lifesaving exploits.
In 2015 he was presented by Cartrefi Conwy with their annual Living the Values Award for going the extra mile in delivering excellent standards of service to vulnerable tenants.
According to Rose, she was astounded by the number of cards and message of condolences that had poured in.
Rose said: “Phil was the best husband and father anyone could wish for. He was so tolerant and never raised his voice. He loved his caretaker role and took it very seriously. He just loved looking after the older people of Llanrwst.
“He saved the lives of two people during his time, although he never talked about the incidents.
“The first was in about 1982. We had torrential rain and a wall collapsed. A neighbour was being swept away by the flood until Phil waded in and grabbed her.
“He got her out of the water. There is no doubt she would have drowned if he hadn’t acted. But he saw it as nothing and said he only did what anyone would do.
“Then in around 2000 there was a fire in a neighbouring property and Phil saw there was smoke pouring out of the house, so he and a retired fireman who lived near us rescued the neighbour who was unconscious.
“Phil received an award for that but he never talked about it. He just thought he was doing his job. That was typical of Phil.”
She added: “He just loved working for Cartrefi Conwy for the last 20 years. He saw the older tenants as friends. Nothing was ever too much trouble to him. He was so conscientious and cared for everyone in the same way.
“People have been so kind and the number of cards and messages I’ve received is incredible. It shows how much people loved him. I’m going to miss him terribly and our lives will never be the same. He was just a special man.”
Cartrefi Conwy tenant Tilly Goodwin, 80, who lives in Scotland Street, described Phil as irreplaceable.
She said: “I knew Phil since he was a young lad growing up in Llanrwst. He was my caretaker when I lived in the Glanrafon flats and now here in Scotland Street.
“When I moved into Scotland Street, I had a real problem as I couldn’t get the washing machine through the door. That was no trouble to Phil, he simply took the door off so we could get it in. He was always willing to help.
“He always parked his car so I could see it out of my window. Knowing he was there made me feel safe. He kept everything clean and tidy, the bins had to go back in the right place and in the right order and he’d do that.
“Nothing was ever too much trouble. We will all miss him terribly and nothing will ever be the same really.”
Cartrefi Conwy Neighbourhood Co-ordinator Emyr Hughes worked alongside Phil Evans for many years in Llanrwst and says he couldn’t have asked for a better colleague.
He said: “ I don’t think Phil would ever have retired. He was so well respected not just by Cartrefi Conwy staff but by tenants too. He went out of his way to help everyone regardless. He’d take on tasks to help tenants that weren’t in his remit or part of what could be considered his duties.
“I know tenants, for example, would ring him at night as a lightbulb had blown. He’d pop around and sort it for them. He was just so conscientious.
“He always started at 6am. Even when it was a bank holiday Monday, he’d be out putting the bins out ready for the Tuesday collection to save tenants doing it. He will be a huge loss.”
It was a sentiment endorsed by Cartrefi Conwy Independent Living Co-ordinator, Allison Hughes who thought of Phil as “big brother”.
She said: “I worked with him for nearly 10 years and can say he was an absolute gentleman. He was so genuine to all tenants and the respect all the tenants had for Phil is incredible.
“He was so well known and never had a bad word to say about anyone. Cartrefi Conwy has a near impossible task in finding someone capable of filling his shoes.
“Phil, Emyr and I were known as the Three Amigos. We worked so closely together. If Phil saw someone’s light on at an odd hour, he’d call me so I could check on them and I never knew him ever turn down a tenant’s request for help.”
“He really will be sadly missed by everyone in Llanrwst. He has been taken far too soon and no one will miss him more than his wonderful wife Rose.”