In the summer of 2020, as the number of covid-related deaths began spiralling out of control, retired army Major Gary Evans once again put himself on the frontline when he agreed to run Carmarthenshire’s temporary county mortuary.

This meant he was prepared to work in an extremely hazardous environment, putting himself and his entire family at risk.

Now, in recognition of his outstanding services to Carmarthenshire, Gary has been shortlisted for two major national Welsh Veterans’ Awards.


“I received the phone call in November 2020,” he recalls. “At the time, Carmarthenshire NHS was struggling to cope with the capacity of deaths which were being attributed to the covid pandemic so without hesitation I accepted their offer.”

Gary’s first mission was to recruit his own staff comprising six porters and two registrars, all of whom he sourced from the service veteran and ex-police community.

“Because of the confidentiality and the sensitivity of what the job entailed, I was adamant that the staffing had to be correct,” he said. “And because there wasn’t much time between setting up the facility and achieving the target operational date, interviews had to be conducted quickly.”

On January 6, Gary made a formal declaration to the council that the temporary mortuary was fully operational at its location next to the county showground, and it received its first delivery the very same day.  For the next seven months, bodies continued to arrive on a regular basis and the Carmarthen temporary mortuary was the only unit in Wales to become fully operational.

Major Gary Evans, who lives in Llanybydder, retired from the Royal Artillery in 2017 following a 38 year career which included time spent in operational theatres.

“I felt I had some transferrable skills and life experiences that would be of benefit to the community,” he added, “and it was a great honour to support the county throughout those difficult times.”

The Welsh Veterans Awards will take place at the Village Hotel, Cardiff on June 30 and are in honour of ex-servicemen who have made a major contribution to public life.