Former Attleborough mayor Denise Francis dies

A FORMER town mayor who spent 15 years as a member of Attleborough Town Council has died, aged 71.

Denise Francis was keen to push the town's tourism credentials and attract funds for the town's Christmas lights display which has gone on to be regarded as one of the best in south Norfolk.

She was elected as mayor in 2001 following in the footsteps of her father, mother and husband Peter who had all spent time wearing the ceremonial chain prior.

Speaking to the Mercury after assuming the title, she said: 'I love the town and am very proud of it. I believe we have something to offer people and that's why one of the main themes for this year will be tourism. I want to work with Breckland Council and the town council's tourism committee to see how we can promote the town to the full.'

Mrs Francis was born in Norwich while her mother was briefly evacuated from London during the war. The family moved from London to Attleborough when she was very young.

She was educated at the junior school in Attleborough and at the former Lonsdale School in Norwich.

Her first job was at Norwich Union before she took over the running of her parents' store in Queen's Square, Attleborough, called Astley Trading, which sold soft furnishings as well as men's and women's outfits.

Most Read

She married Peter Francis in St Mary's Church in 1964. The pair left the area but returned to Norwich in 1972 before moving to a smallholdings at Shropham in 1987 where she enjoyed a hobby of creating decoupage greetings cards which she sold for charity.

Mrs Francis was secretary of the couple's business, which involved the letting of retail premises and houses in Norfolk, and joined Attleborough's Chamber of Trade.

Both were elected to Attleborough Town Council in 1995 and become the first and only time a husband and wife have sat on the council at the same time.

She stood down from the council last year due to ill health.

'She did miss it. She thoroughly enjoyed it. She would only have stood down if she absolutely had to,' said Mr Francis.

'She was very organised and a good chairman. She was a very good mother and very protective of her children.'

The couple had two children – Sarah, 44, and Stuart, 42 – as well as five grandchildren.

Her funeral will take place at St Mary's Church, in Attleborough, tomorrow at 11am followed by a private cremation. Family flowers only, but donations in support of the Attleborough Christmas lights can be sent to RJ Bartram & Son Funeral Service, 31 Hargham Road, Attleborough, NR17 2ES.