It is with great sadness we share the news that Revd David Evans, listening volunteer for 38 years and former General Secretary of Samaritans, passed away recently.
David joined Samaritans as a listening volunteer in 1968 and began his time in Swansea Samaritans where he soon became Branch Director.
David’s leadership of Samaritans began in 1975, when he became the CEO of Samaritans, a staff position which was then called General Secretary. At the time, Samaritans Central Office was based in Slough, in the building now used by the Slough branch.
In his 14 years in the role, David was instrumental in overseeing the growth of Samaritans as it expanded to its now 200 plus branches, helping to standardise the service and unify the branches and volunteers.
David continued in his role as a listening volunteer and over the course of his 38-year service, he moved between five Samaritans branches, providing calm and generous support to both callers and those around him.
Mike 299 from Watford Samaritans who worked with David during his tenure as General Secretary, has fond memories of the time.
Mike, said: “It was David’s warm humanity and wry/dry humour that engaged those of us who had the joy of working with ‘RevEv’ as he was affectionately known. Many of us will miss the telephone call that always started with the words, “David here” delivered in a deep sepulchral voice. We all knew that it usually heralded us being asked to do something and equally knew that we’d likely end up agreeing to do so.”
Simon Armson first met David when he applied to be a volunteer at Birmingham Samaritans. David was Branch Director at the time and Simon remembers well the acceptance and warmth with which he was first greeted. Some years later, Simon joined the Samaritans staff and spent five years working for David as Assistant General Secretary, before taking over as CEO when David retired in 1989.
Simon, said: “David was kind, gentle and full of humanity and wisdom. If anyone wanted to go and chew over a problem with David, he would listen carefully in silence and after a little while he would come out with some words of wisdom which were often in the form of a parable. He was a great support and I enjoyed working with him a lot.
“David was well known for his dry wit, whether he was delivering talks to branches, or giving what he called the ‘shrubbery notices’ at the national conference – he had a particular style.”
During his time with Samaritans, David was a listening volunteer and Branch Director of Swansea Samaritans (1968-1971), Branch Director of Birmingham Samaritans (1971-1975), General Secretary of Samaritans (1975-1989) and listening volunteer at Reading Samaritans, listening volunteer at Northampton Samaritans (1989-2001) and listening volunteer at Exeter Samaritans (2001-2006).
David’s funeral took place on Monday April 4 at St Luke’s Church in Tutshill. He is survived by his widow Jenny and their three sons.
Julie Bentley, CEO of Samaritans, said: “We owe David a debt of gratitude, both for the significant role he played in leading the organisation through such an important time in its evolution, but also for the many people’s lives he touched and saved during his many years as a listening volunteer. Our thoughts are with David’s family at this difficult time.”