OLIVE Evans, a career schoolteacher who later became Monmouthshire County Council’s first chairwoman, has died, aged 89.

An influential member of the community who watched generations of children in Undy and Caldicot grow up around her, Mrs Evans also devoted her time to causes close to her heart, including the Royal British Legion and the Meals on Wheels service, as well as years of public service.

Her son Chris described his mother as someone willing to “lend a hand to anyone who needed one”.

Mrs Evans spent her childhood at Manor Farm in St Brides, near Undy. Growing up there in the ’30s, she adored nature and enjoyed painting flowers and birds.

Tragically, her mother died when Mrs Evans was aged 10. It was around the same time that war broke out, and many evacuees were sent to the safety of Monmouthshire, away from the German blitz.

Curiously, in later life as a councillor, Mrs Evans would rediscover those years when she helped the Evacuee Association research what had happened to two girls killed locally in a train accident.

After attending college near Derby, she met Gwilym at a school in St Brides to which the two apprentice teachers had been posted.

Two years later, they married, and later had four children.

Mrs Evans taught reception class children, spending most of her career at Sandy Lane School in Caldicot, where she was deputy headteacher.

She and her husband were instrumental in reviving the local Royal British Legion branch, being actively involved in its running and fundraising for many years.

Mr Evans became involved in local politics, and following his death in 1995, Mrs Evans decided to follow him into public service.

She served first on Undy Community Council and then later on Monmouthshire County Council, eventually becoming its first female chairman – the term ‘chairwoman’ not yet in vogue.

Though a strong Labour supporter, she won respect from her political opponents.

“People set aside their political views to vote for my mother, because of her values in the community,” her son Chris said. “She used her platform to help people.

“She was very proud to be the first chairwoman. She was a strong character and a feminist.”

In her retirement, Mrs Evans remained active in the community, on a political level and maintaining links with Undy Primary School, where she gave out an award – and a copy of Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales – annually to the pupil considered by teachers to have the best sense of teamwork and community.

Mrs Evans died peacefully in her sleep on April 25. She is remembered fondly by her four children Roger, Catherine, Susan, and Chris; and her grandchildren Dan, Ben, Rose, Michael, and Heather.

A funeral for Mrs Evans will take place at Magor church on Tuesday, May 14, 1pm, followed by a reception.