Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Great Britain: Chance to tell the story of the fascinating life of Malvern businessman and former endurance horse racing champion with a passion for wildlife and art - Full Article

Cathy Anstey, Reporter / Tuesday 19 January 2016

AT THE age of 14 Derek Francis wanted to be a scientist. His mum wanted him to go to grammar school and his dad wanted him to join the family business.

Despite his keen interest in astronomy and zoology, he chose to work with his dad, a furniture maker in Malvern.

After starting an apprenticeship to learn about furniture and upholstery, Derek and his father decided to move into retail as they realised it was more profitable to sell furniture made by other people.

This was the start of the independent family-run furniture, beds and interiors business now known as Francis of Malvern, based in Malvern Link.

Derek’s job was delivering furniture, often on a hand cart he pushed to customers’ homes in Malvern. Now aged 91, he recalls: “It was a hard way of delivering a bedstead in Malvern.” He was, without doubt, very fit and strong in those days.

But despite focusing on a career in business, Derek did not lose interest in science, and particularly zoology. In the 1960s he went on an African safari, which reignited his passion for animals.

“I got hooked on wildlife and the whole idea and necessity of doing something to preserve wildlife. I have had a passionate interest in the subject ever since...

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