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OBITUARY: Francis Donald Dales

Former Spalding man Frank Dales died peacefully in his sleep at home in Beeston, Nottingham on Christmas Eve, aged 79. He had recently been diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer.

He leaves his wife of 53 years, Carole, his children Colin, Kathryn and Philip and his seven grandchildren.

As an adult he preferred to be called Frank but was christened Francis Donald Dales and while growing up was known affectionately as Frankie to his immediate family. He was born at home in Spalding at 9 Fulney Avenue on November 28, 1939, the son of farm-labourer Herbert Gordon Dales and school cook Ida Dales.

He had a younger sister, Iris, with his older brothers being Hubert, Tony and Derek. His only surviving sibling is Derek.

The young teenage Frank showed his entrepreneurial promise by selling his daily lunch-pack sandwiches of bread and plum-jam to his fellow pupils at Spalding Grammar School.

Frank always recognised and appreciated that his education at Spalding Grammar School was a real opportunity and it was through the school that he secured an engineering apprenticeship at Peter Brotherhood Ltd, the steam turbine engineering manufacturers in Peterborough.

Needing transport to get from Spalding to Peterborough led to the purchase of a Triumph motorbike and an interest in motorcycling that he maintained for most of his adult life. He also enjoyed sub-aqua diving in his twenties and thirties, and later went on to play squash and golf until a knee replacement.

After successful completion of his apprenticeship at Peter Brotherhood’s, Frank moved in 1967 to Ruston’s Engineering Company as works manager at their factory in Huntingdon. In 1970 he successfully applied to be production manager with Conder Structural Steel at Burton on Trent, and five years later became a director at an aluminium fabrications company in Nottingham known as Alfab.

Then, in 1977, Frank took the plunge and decided to set up in business on his own. Dales Fabrications opened in September at a small factory unit in Ilkeston with the intention of designing, manufacturing and supplying pressed-steel gutters for industrial buildings. The business grew successfully and in 1980 was incorporated as a private limited company which then moved to a purpose-built factory at Crompton Road in Ilkeston in 1981.

Frank later became involved in the Association of Building Component Manufacturers (ABCM), becoming chairman, and was invited to sit on European harmonisation committees for products and technical standards relevant to Dales Fabrications Ltd.

Frank's charitable instincts included setting up a foundation funded by the business purely for the benefit of those local to Ilkeston and involvement with the initial setting up the Erewash Credit Union (now trading as the Derbyshire Community Bank).

A committed family man, Frank was surrounded by his loving family at his death. Many employees, friends and business associates have expressed their deep sorrow at his passing. His funeral will be held at St John The Baptist, Beeston Parish Church at 9.45am this Friday. Flowers by immediate family only, however donations to the Red Cross will be welcome c/o A W Lymm Funeral Directors, Trent House, Station Road, Beeston NG9 2AY.

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