It is extremely likely that if Jack Mustarde, founder of the International Reconstructive Plastic Surgery (Ghana) Project had not met Mrs Evelyn Tay, Secretary to the Japanese Ambassador at the Japanese Embassy in Accra in early 1993 it would have taken many more years for the project to succeed and it would have been a much smaller venture.

At the outset Evelyn reassured Jack that his fund-raising visit to the Embassy had not been wasted when he met the Ambassador’s First Secretary. Over a cup of tea, she offered to help and Jack asked if she could help with typing. Jack rapidly became impressed with Evelyn’s extremely wide network of contacts in Accra and Ghana in general. Evelyn made an appointment for Jack to meet the newly appointed Ambassador on his next visit to Ghana. The meeting after a slow start prospered and as a direct result lead to a large donation to fund the entire surgical twin theatres in the proposed new build unit at Korle Bu Hospital.

Jack Mustarde cuts the ribbon for the new Reconstructive Surgery and Burns Unit in Korle Bu, 1997. With representatives of Ghana Ministry, Government and Korle Bu Hospital, Japanese Government, and Mrs Evelyn Tay.,

In co-ordination with Prof Eddie Yeboah, Head of Surgery at Korle Bu Hospital in Accra Evelyn was a key contact and fixer always ready to help with  Medical, social and professional contacts. Her interest and support was key in making the expat volunteers who were setting up the surgical workload welcome and comfortable. In particular, when it came to setting up a second smaller Burn Intensive Care Unit in Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi Evelyn’s extensive network of contacts there and her general diplomatic skills emphasised to Arthur Morris (whom Jack had asked to assist in Kumasi ) that a slightly different approach was needed to introduce nurse training at the outset to support the Plastic Surgeon, Pius Agbenorku, who was already in place. The nurses were selected by the Kumasi Hospital authorities and they were trained in the Dundee Teaching Hospitals Trust in Scotland. Evelyn always fixed visas and airline tickets as well as seeing them off from Kotoka Airport.

Over many years Evelyn worked with many organisations to help to provide health care services in Ghana. She was a co-ordinator at the College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana Medical School. With Professor Eddie Yeboah she worked on the Ghana Prostate Cancer Study and coordinator on the Lions International Specialist Eye Centre (Moorfields Eye Centre) at Korle Bu. This culminated in the award of the MBE in 2016.

Born in Gateside, Fife, Evelyn was educated at Boroughmuir High School in Edinburgh and Moray House College of Education, University of Edinburgh.

Evelyn Tay with Resurge Africa’s Martyn Webster at the 2018 opening ceremony of the new Burns Intensive Care Unit at Korle Bu

Evelyn was a compassionate, empathetic, resourceful, kind leader who through teamwork and all her contacts accomplished magnificent success in all her projects. For a volunteer on a first visit to Ghana it was the help and inspiration of Evelyn which encouraged so many of us to return and finish the job Jack started.

Arthur Morris OBE

Hon President Resurge Africa