Franchesca was well-known locally, particularly through the Conduit Magazine she started in 2001 which now covers much of Somerset and Dorset. However, we knew her because of the European Garden Breaks Club and the Charity Specialist Plant Fairs.
The first visit Franchesca organised was in 1996 to Monet Garden in Giverny as a fund raiser for the Somerset Wildflower Meadows Appeal. It was the popularity of this that gave her the idea of the European Garden Breaks Club. Over the years, the group has been to France, Belgium and Holland exploring gardens of all sizes and styles, from small private ones to the Royal Greenhouses in Brussels. From the stories we have heard, each trip had its own little adventure and was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.
Franchesca started organising the Charity Specialist Plant Fairs in the late 1990s and at one time was doing ten events a year. Over the years these fairs raised thousands of pounds from the admission charges, for charities; such as the Dorset Wildlife Trust, St John Ambulance, RNLI and local churches and village halls.
For health reasons Franchesca felt she must give up organising the plant fairs and trips in 2014 but she handed on to us a “well-oiled machine” and happily shared her vast experience and wisdom. We were very pleased she joined us with her mother on our first Garden Breaks trip in 2015 and grateful for her calm advice during the industrial action on the return ferry crossing! With the help of her mother she had a stand at quite a few of the plant fairs during the last few years, the last one being at Yarlington this summer.
Franchesca was an inspiration with her positive attitude and enthusiasm and will be sadly missed. As someone said to us: “…the loss of a great person who was an encouragement to everyone she met. I think all of us will be inspired by Franchesca, the way she was not prepared to let her condition stop her from being the Franchesca we all loved.”
Our thoughts are with Francesca’s mother Erica and her family.
The funeral was on 26th September 2017 at the Yeovil Crematorium with donations to Macmillan Cancer Support.
Franchesca Dening 28th October 1958 – 8th September 2017