Loved local mum Dianne Francis pictured earlier this year at Dunga Derby.
Loved local mum Dianne Francis pictured earlier this year at Dunga Derby. Valerie Horton

REMEMBERING DIANNE: Loved mum, midwife, community champion

DIANNE Francis was many things to the community, but to her five children she was mum - the best kind.

At her memorial service yesterday she was described as a strong, independent role model who fought her battle against brain cancer with dignity for the past 14 months.

Working as a midwife at the Hervey Bay Hospital, bringing hundreds of children into this world was her second greatest passion.

That's why the community rallied so strongly around her when she was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour.

A grateful recipient of assistance from Fraser Coast charity Rally For A Cause, she became one of the faces of the Dunga Derby and was dedicated to raising funds for the charity until her death last Thursday.

Her heartbroken father, Darrel Francis, yesterday told the Chronicle he and his wife Margaret tried their best to prepare themselves for the day they might lose their daughter.

"You can't ever really prepare yourself for this moment, but we've known for 14 months," Mr Francis said.

"We've been preparing since July last year."

He said Dianne's three daughters, Bethany, 19, Hayley,17, and Rebecca, 13, will live on their own while twin boys Blake and Lucas, 10, will live with their father.

"We just ask if the community could rally behind the girls because they're going to live on their own, because the house is theirs," Mr Francis said.

The hundreds of people who gathered at Bayside Memorial Gardens to remember Dianne's life was testament to the impact she had in her 45 years.

After her shock diagnosis in July 2017, A Go Fund Me page was set up by her workmates and raised $10,000.

This was in addition to the funding she received from Rally For A Cause.

Mr Francis said the family was blown away by the generosity shown to their daughter during her darkest hours.

"When Di came back from her surgery in Brisbane last year, that was the first contact she had with Rally for a Cause," Mr Francis said.

"They offered her a holiday, but she wouldn't take it because she'd already had one from the Go Fund Me page her colleagues set up.

"But they gave her a lounge chair, flights and food vouchers.

"They went above and beyond our expectations to help Di."

Mr Francis said Dianne's greatest wish was to pass on the generosity to another family through Rally for a Cause.

Earlier this year Dianne joined forces with her colleagues Heather Crompton, Rachael Walker and Anne-Marie Nicol, and created the 2018 Dunga Derby team, The Twisted Sisters.

Together they raised $8200.

"Di's passion was to do something for others through Dunga Derby because they helped her," Mr Francis said.

"Her goal was to complete the Dunga Derby trail, but she wasn't capable of completing the course because she was starting to fail."

Instead, Mr Francis and his brother Athol completed the main leg of the course.

Despite her condition at the time, Dianne persevered and completed the first and last legs of the derby. In a true reflection of Dianne's fun-loving spirit, the memorial concluded with Cindy Lauper's Girls Just Want To Have Fun.