My friend, Roddy Evans, who has died aged 97, was a skilled surgeon and a remarkable man, whose commitment to his worldwide community was highly significant.
A Christian, he was drawn to the Moral Re-Armament movement (MRA, now Initiatives of Change) because it was based on practical Christianity: putting your own life in order first so that you can help others. Roddy lived a simple life and he believed that God would provide for him.
He first visited India in 1952, leading a medical team to accompany 250 people who wanted to assist in the reconstruction of the country. On advice, he bought four books on tropical medicine, and they became the basis of his treatments.
Roddy spent the next 18 years travelling across the world with MRA. He met and worked with many great and influential people, which helped him to recognise the problems in his own divided homeland of Ireland.
He applied the same precision to his analysis of national and international events as he did to his surgical work. A friend said that his explanations allowed the listener to think about a situation properly.
Born in Woodtown, County Meath, in Ireland, to Thomas Evans and Constance (nee O’Neill), Roddy gained a scholarship and was educated in Dublin, at King’s Hospital school and, later, Trinity College. He graduated with a medical degree before becoming a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 1951, practising medicine in Dublin and London prior to his travels.
At the outbreak of the Troubles, Roddy knew he must do something. He thought that he could use the knowledge he had gained in the divided countries he had worked in to help. He returned to live in Belfast in 1970, and he and others of like mind met in Clonard Redemptorist Monastery in west Belfast for Bible studies and discussions.
Their meetings explored the unhealed relationship between Britain and Ireland. Father Alec Reid from the monastery went on to lead a peace initiative that made a crucial contribution to the Belfast agreement of 1998.
Roddy privately published his thoughts and experience of those meetings and what they achieved. They are archived on the University of Ulster’s Conflict Archive on the Internet (Cain) website, which records the 50 traumatic years of Anglo-Irish relations.
Latterly, with failing eyesight and hearing, Roddy continued to support his church and local community. He kept in touch with the world through different radios tuned to different stations, and by dictating letters to his friends across the globe.
He is survived by his sister, Hazel, his brother, Jef, and his nieces and nephews.