Tributes have been paid to former Councillor and Mayor of Bangor, Evelyn Butler, who passed away recently.
Evelyn had dedicated her life to public office and been Mayor of the City on two occasions.
Born on a small farm in Llanfflewyn on 13th October, 1936. Evelyn Margaret Butler was the youngest of nine children born to Elizabeth Ellen and Owen Hughes. Evelyn, or Nennie as she called herself, was the princess to her adoring parents, devoted elder sister Mair and her seven big brothers, and as noted in the rhyme, Eve was full of grace. She loved taking part in Church activities and Eisteddfods.
Having completed her examinations, Evelyn was desperate to start nursing and signed up to become a nursing cadet at the Caernarfonshire and Anglesey hospital in Bangor (currently Morrisons) at the age of 17.
She loved nursing and met her husband to be Frank Butler when she was nursing his brother Peter. They married in 1956 and had two daughters Mary and Lesley. Eve and Frank were delighted when they were presented with their grandchildren – Victoria and Charlotte continue to be Eve’s blessings together with their own children, Ava, Amber and Adam.
Having given up nursing due to contracting contact dermatitis whilst barrier nursing, Evelyn retrained in the early 1970s and joined the newly formed Arfon Borough Council in 1974 as the Housing Complaints Clerk based in Caernarfon.
Evelyn worked hard and gained experience; she was promoted to became Arfon’s Lettings Officer in 1980 – this included responsibility for homeless people and letting council houses. She was instrumental in setting up the Women’s Refuge in Bangor, settling the Vietnamese Boat people and other initiatives which came her way.
Evelyn felt strongly about Equal Rights and Fair Play, she joined NALGO, the local government union and fought within the system to achieve equality. She became the Secretary of NALGO’s Arfon Branch and played at both Local and National level. She was active in the introduction of the Women’s Group which offered a supportive role to give women the confidence to stand up for their own rights and to give them a platform to develop themselves.
Proud to be on National Standing Orders Committee, she continued this work when NALGO became Unison after it was amalgamated with other Public Sector’s Unions.
Evelyn stood for the City of Bangor Council in 1989 and was so proud to be elected as an Independent Councillor. She was able to bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to her role and thoroughly enjoyed helping and advising her local community. She was Chair of Finance and General Purposes Committee on several occasions and was Mayor in 1995 and 2015.
Evelyn was very definite that Bangor Citizens should have good access to good advice and information. She joined Bangor Citizens’ Advice Bureau, and was a CAB Trustee for forty years – her last role being the Chair of Gwynedd CAB.
Frank’s parents were members of Hirael Old Peoples’ Club where Frank and Evelyn used to provide tea parties, especially at Christmas. Once Evelyn retired, she took on the role of organiser and enjoyed organising parties, excursions and outings for the club members, including mystery tours – one such trip in particular being the exciting trek up Snowdon on the Snowdon Mountain Railway.
Evelyn retired in December 1998 to enjoy a much planned retirement with Frank, but alas this was not to be as the following day Frank went to see the GP and was sent to Ysbyty Gwynedd for chest X-Rays. He was diagnosed with a collapsed lung which unfortunately, despite frequent interventions, did not improve. Frank was sent to Broad Green, Liverpool and somewhere between there and Ysbyty Gwynedd he contracted MRSA. Eve fought for his return to Ysbyty Gwynedd and his barrier treatment. But, he then contracted Toxaemia because of the MRSA treatment. Finally some weeks later he was transferred to Eryri Hospital. Frank had been due to come home but a week or so beforehand he passed away in March 1999.
Evelyn was devastated, she had fought hard for Frank to live, but she now had to find the courage to turn back to life and stood in the local elections in May 1999, as a Labour Party Candidate. Evelyn became a hard working member of the Labour Party, always involved in fundraising and canvassing; she was a brilliant telephone canvasser!
Evelyn decided to do an aromatherapy course, but discovered she had to complete and pass a massage course first. Whilst doing this course, she was introduced to Reiki and subsequently over the years trained to become a Reiki Master. Having qualified as an Aromatherapist, Evelyn, never one to do things by half, was persuaded into becoming a Likisma aromatherapy oils demonstrator – she loved making up wonderful potions to treat all manner of ills. She was then persuaded to become an Ipsos Researcher – specialising in Media Diaries – with the occasional bit of Mystery Shopper thrown in.
Evelyn had always been interested in Bangor and her twin town of Soest in Germany, from the early days of Twinning in 1973. She hosted many people in her home – including those who had not a word of English – and she with half a dozen words of German, such as Tasse, unter tasse and Schlanger!
Evelyn was involved in, organised and participated in exchange programmes – coming up with original and traditional ideas for fundraising. She enjoyed many meetings in Bangor and Soest; her enthusiasm for the Fair in Soest, the Christmas markets or the visits to the Börde days with her input in the international church services remain unforgotten.
She was one of the delegates on the Seniors in Europe project which included the countries of Wales, Germany, Poland, Netherlands and Hungary. The Welsh delegation were instrumental in gaining the Welsh six week initiative where hospital inpatients were granted six weeks to trial either returning home with carers’ support or go into nursing care, hence having to avoid life changing decisions when they were at their most vulnerable.
Brought up to be a member of the Church in Wales, Evelyn became a participant at Bangor Cathedral where she became a Sunday School Teacher. She joined St Mary’s Church and was an active member, including Mothers’ Union up until St Mary’s Church closure.
Frank was a Charter member of Bangor Lions, so it was natural that Evelyn became a lioness in latter years and was frequently found with her Lions fundraising bucket outside TK Maxx or even on Beach Road during the firework displays.
Whilst waiting for knee surgery Evelyn was encouraged to go weight and circuit training and, apart from her persistent cough and painful knees, she declared she felt fitter than ever! Although she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in January 2019.
The funeral service will be held at Bangor Cathedral on Wednesday 11th September at 12.30pm followed by a committal at Bangor Crematorium at 1.30pm
Donations are accepted for Hospice at Home via funeral directors John Turner, Bangor.