Margaret and Darrel Francis at one of the Dunga Derby events.
Margaret and Darrel Francis at one of the Dunga Derby events.

Tributes flow for devoted dad killed in boating accident

WHEN Darrel Francis lost his daughter to cancer, he devoted his time to supporting the charity that helped her in the final months of her life.

The 75-year-old Tinana man was killed in a boating accident in Moreton Bay yesterday.

His cousin also died when their boat capsized in strong winds.

Darrel has been remembered by those who knew him as someone who loved his family and his community.

He was a Scout Leader, an active member of the bowls community and a loving husband to his wife Margaret, and father to their three children, Dianne, Rodney and Wayne.

When his daughter Dianne, a much-loved Hervey Bay nurse, was diagnosed with brain cancer, Dunga Derby reached out to the mother-of-five.

The charity did as much as it could for her before she died in 2018.

Darrel became passionately involved with the charity and its annual Rally for a Cause.

Dianne was looking forward to taking part in the event, but became too ill to be involved.

Darrel took up the challenge to honour his daughter.

Darrel Francis and his brother Athol completed the 2018 Dunga Derby for their beloved Dianne who was unable to finish the course due to failing health. Darrel will once again get behind the wheel of Car 24 for this year's rally in his daughter's memory.
Darrel Francis and his brother Athol completed the 2018 Dunga Derby for their beloved Dianne who was unable to finish the course due to failing health. Darrel will once again get behind the wheel of Car 24 for this year's rally in his daughter's memory.

At the time he made a speech, detailing his daughter's struggle and how he got behind the wheel of the car in her name.

His love for his daughter was clear in every moment as well as his appreciation of what had been done by the charity.

It was a charity he would devote his time to for the remainder of his life.

Kerry Spencer, recipient co-ordinator for Dunga Derby, said Darrel was a beautiful person.

"He was really special to all of us," she said.

Ms Spencer said Darrel had been grateful to Dunga Derby and the support given to his daughter.

Dunga Derby car # 24 Twisted Sisters' Dianne Francis.
Dunga Derby car # 24 Twisted Sisters' Dianne Francis.

Darrel, along with his crew, raised the third biggest amount for the charity when taking part in the event.

"We all loved him so much," Ms Spencer said.

"He was very giving of his time and very generous."

One of his close friends, Ken Ashford, said his mate was "very helpful to a lot of people".

"He was a good tradesman," he said.

"He was a welder by profession and he was very good at that."

Mr Ashford said Darrel was devoted to his family.

He said he felt for Margaret at this time.

"She's a really lovely lady," Mr Ashford said.

"Darrel was a gentleman and she is a lady."

Mr Ashford said Darrel was the kind of man who was always working quietly in the background.

He said it was a devastating loss for the community.


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