Grieving Harrogate family’s tribute to ‘fantastic dad Steve’

Better times - The late Steve Francis with members of his family. From left, daughter Storm Francis, at the back - Steve Francis, Phil Francis. Front, Kieran Francis, Steves widow Alison and Zoe Hanson.
Better times - The late Steve Francis with members of his family. From left, daughter Storm Francis, at the back - Steve Francis, Phil Francis. Front, Kieran Francis, Steves widow Alison and Zoe Hanson.
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The family of an incredibly brave Harrogate man who lost a three-year fight with lung cancer last week are appealing for the public to donate to Saint Michael’s Hospice. Steve Francis, 55, finally succumbed after a stubborn battle and died peacefully at the hospice. He leaves three children, Phil, 30 , Storm, 13 and Keiran, eight. His funeral will be held tomorrow, Friday at 2.40pm at Christ Church in Harrogate.

Steve Francis, 55, finally succumbed after a stubborn battle and died peacefully at the hospice.

He leaves three children, Phil, 30 , Storm, 13 and Keiran, eight.

His funeral will be held tomorrow, Friday at 2.40pm at Christ Church in Harrogate.

Even while still recovering from a course of radiotherapy, Steve had joined fundraising efforts personally.

The family had already set up a Just Giving page to fundraise for the local charity spearheaded by Steve’s 13-year-old daughter, Storm.

The total now stands at nearly £2,300 and is still rising.

But Steve’s family are renewing their efforts to fundraise and have praised the hospice for its amazing work.

His widow Alison said: “The support the hospice provides not just to for patients but family members in what has been an extremely difficult time, from the palliative care nurse to the cooks to the receptionists has been fantastic.”

Steve, a bricklayer, was first diagnosed with lung cancer in March 2014.

The courage with which he confronted his condition impressed everyone who knew him.

His widow Alison, a cook at a day nursery in Harrogate, said there would never be anyone else like Steve.

She said: “He was a truly unique individual and there will be never ever be another like him - a fantastic husband, father, brother, uncle and friend to everyone who had the honour of knowing him.

“Life will never be the same without him but he will live on through his three beautiful children and in our hearts and minds always and forever.

“He was an absolute legend.”

After first realising he had the condition, hopes that a lobectomy opeation in July 14 to remove the tumour would deal with the problem were dashed when the surgeon discovered the tumour was wrapped around Steve’s aorta or main blood vessel.

With that option ruled out as simply too dangerous, Steve then began four months of intensive chemotherapy at the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre at Harrogate Hospital followed by a course of radiotherapy the same year.

In an amazing act of gratitude at the time, while still recovering from his radiotherapy, Steve personally raised a £1,000 for the centre in 2014 by giving people lifts on New Year’s Eve.

Sadly, no matter how hard Steve fought in the last two years, one door after another to recovery shut in his face.

His wife Alison said the realisation came that the time for fighting was over and a move into Saint Michael’s Hospice was for the best.

She said: “Despite all his treatment, Steve’s cancer came back. We decided as a family that there was no point in any more chemotherapy. It is about the quality of life.”

In these last trying six months, Alison said the quality of care by staff at Saint Michael’s Hospice had been magnificent.

But Alison also paid tribute to her daughter Storm for her fundraising efforts in particular.

The teenage Storm was moved to act after a recent event for friends and family designed to remember the good old days.

The Pinks party reunion was organised by Steve’s brother Paul at North Rigton in tribute to this popular dance night’s glory days of the early 1990s in and around the Harrogate area.

By all accounts, it was a memorable night with £1,926 raised, split evenly between Saint Michael’s Hospice and Organ and Tissue Donation at Harrogate Hospital in honour of another Harrogate man, Michael Halliwell, who became an organ donor after dying in a tragic road accident at the age of 36 in 2013.

Thanks to Storm and Just Giving, the total for Saint Michael’s Hospice is still rising.

For tomorrow’s funeral. Steve’s wish was that people attending should wear Pink Floyd T-shirts, after his favourite band, though the family say this is entirely optional.

All are welcome and donations will be taken on the door for Saint Michael’s Hospice.

The wake will take place at Starbeck Working Men’s Club.