Tribute paid to rugby player and “top man”

David Francombe PNL-160524-161850001
David Francombe PNL-160524-161850001

A former Bedford Rugby Club player has died in an aircraft accident in Africa.

David Francombe played for the Blues from 1986 to 1990 when he was a student at Bedford College. When he completed his studies he returned to his birthplace in Kenya, where he captained the Kenya national side.

After gaining a pilot’s licence, he worked as a self-employed pilot and settled in Narok with his wife, Cally, and his son and daughter.

He was flying to Cameroon when his plane came down over Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday, May 16.

Bedford Blues President Gareth Davies said: “Everyone at the club was deeply shocked and saddened to hear of Dave’s untimely death.

“He spent four years with us and was regarded as an extremely athletic, talented and competitive player who helped the club gain promotion to Courage League One in the 1988/89 season.

“In every sense of the phrase, Dave was a top man away from the field and he will be remembered with great fondness by everyone at the club and all of his former teammates. Our thoughts are with Dave’s family at this very difficult time.”

Many tributes have been left on David’s Facebook page from friends in Bedford and Africa describing him as a “gentle giant”, a “legend” and “true champion” of Kenya.

More than £68,000 has been raised in memory of the man, known to his friends and family as “Dip”, on an online fundraising site.