Born in Liverpool, England in 1933 into a family of 7, Ray Evans was evacuated to the South Wales town of Llanelli at the outbreak of World War Two. He remained there until the cessation of hostilities in 1945. When he and his family were returned to Liverpool to re-build their family and their lives.
Despite his initial dislike of being in South Wales and Llanelli, he had come to love it dearly once he finally found his way to his beloved Welsh Family the Williams’. He had grown to love the beautiful Welsh countryside, and learned firsthand of the love and genuine warmth of the Welsh people. When he first arrived in Wales he had been teased at school for his Liverpool accent. So it seemed very strange to him that when he finally returned to Liverpool, the kids there teased him because he had now developed a decided “Welsh” accent! Now feeling like a duck out of water yet again, but yearning for the gently rolling hills and green valleys of South Wales, Ray vowed he would move out of the city as soon as he possibly could.
When he left school he worked first at the State Restaurant in Liverpool as a cooks apprentice and then for Hanson’s Dairy as a delivery man before going into the Army to complete his two years National Service as a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps.
He returned to Liverpool and in 1956 married his wife Lilian and shortly thereafter moved out of the city limits to the small village of Whiston. Lilian and Ray have one son and a daughter. In 1964 Ray started a wholesale clothing business and he and Lilian ran this enterprise together highly successfully until 1995, when they moved to New Hampshire, USA to be closer to their daughter and granddaughter (the inspiration for his writing the book). Shortly after moving there Ray began writing the book at the suggestion of his daughter and with the encouragement of Lilian to help ensure the stories would be passed on to all of their grandchildren and generations to come.
It’s interesting to note that during the years spent in New Hampshire Ray & Lilian took a short trip to meet up with Ieuan and his wife when they came over to visit their daughter who was working for a travel company in Vermont. Ieuan was still his “Welsh Brawd”, and they delighted, as they had when they were young boys, in swapping stories and telling jokes. Ieuan and Ray were enjoying a beer together at the bar in the hotel, when they shared their remarkable story with a visibly stunned bar tender.
In 2001 the family moved once more and settled in the gentle rolling hills and green fields near Williamsburg, Virginia, which with all its history and connections to England feels just like home. Lilian sent a copy of the manuscript for Before the Last All Clear to a UK publishing house who released the first edition of the book in 2005.
The book was released to the American market in August 2008 and published on Kindle in 2011. In the process of writing the book, Ray came to realise more than ever before, how the importance of having a home had impacted his life during the evacuation and far beyond. He supports many related charities by actively participating in fund raising events.