In 1986 Robert Evans took over the role of Clerk to the Trustees of the Christopher and Sarah Aldam Bowly’s Almshouse Charities in Cirencester. At the time the sixteen houses were split between three trusts, which meant revenue too was split making it very difficult to fund maintenance and improvements. Robert’s solution was to apply to the Charity Commission to combine the three charities under a single scheme. This was approved and set the new Christopher and Sarah A. Bowly’s Almshouse Charity on a much more secure path for the future. As a result, the trustees were able to embark on a programme of updating kitchens and bathrooms.
In 1989 Jane Gunner became Chairman of the trustees. Robert and she have now worked together for the benefit of the charity for more than 30 years. There have been many highlights including the residents’ annual luncheon given by the trustees for the residents and trades, the 100th birthday of a long-term resident to the nerve-racking time when a storm blew in while half the houses were being re-roofed and were covered in scaffolding. Besides this, Robert’s calm professionalism has moved the charity forward with innovations which are now considered best practice. Cirencester has four almshouse charities and Robert and the other clerks, until the pandemic intervened, had regular meetings to support and inform each other. From this, annual meetings, hosted by the three bigger trusts in turn, were organised, with talks and invitations to almshouse charities in the surrounding area.
Robert also instigated monthly visits to the residents so that they could voice any concerns. His kindness and understanding has made him beloved by everyone, so when, now an octogenarian, he decided it was time to retire after 35 years, there was universal dismay. Once again though, Robert took the sting out of the tail by preparing an excellent induction package for his successor, Clare Hawke, allowing Jane to concentrate on his retirement almost-surprise tea party with trustees, residents and cake!!
The Christopher and Sarah A Bowly’s Almshouse Charity owe Robert Evans a huge debt of gratitude for his 35 years of dedicated years of service and wish him all the very best for a long and happy retirement.