A Tribute to Fran Medley

Pippa Davies 
Fran Medley, my friend, managed to be both magnificent and fun as a human being. I never heard her utter a single word of self-pity. She set about her freelance career, her blog and network, Victorious Endeavours, and her friendships with verve and delight. She was a writer completely, in that when bleak things happened to her they became inspiration for her blog posts, often wry and affectionate.
Fran loved culture and style in clothing, literature, art, food and conversation. Often, she seemed to live life like a Bloomsbury set heroine, dashing about from one cultural event to another but always with time to help those who were struggling or down.  Her Victorious Endeavours salons were impeccably organized, most warmly hosted by herself and Fiona, and goodness, did we laugh with them…
At the end of an evening, Fran would surprise her helpers with aptly personal books as unexpected gifts.
She had a rare  knack of moving her mind from small and thoughtful kindnesses to global concerns – she was interested especially in Africa, having lived in Malawi, and any plight of women worldwide.
Above all Fran’s courage that marked her as magnificent. She distanced her MS by calling it ‘Cruella’, so it possessed her less. It mattered to Fran very much that she could lead, was independent and self-determining. She lived like this until her end. I will never forget her zeal for life, for higher values espoused by culture and art, and those chirpy, mellifluous tones saying ‘Hello, darling…’ which always, without fail, made me smile.
Thank you Fran.
Peter Tyndall

Fran’s loss to the arts community in Wales is a substantial one, as her contribution over many years was inspiring and she offered great support to organisations and individuals in a variety of capacities.  However, Fran’s engagement with the arts was part of a longer career with its roots in a commitment to justice and equality.  I first met Fran through her work with Welsh Women’s Aid and then at Tai Cymru.  She wasn’t driven by housing per se, but by a belief that the public funding of housing could be used to transform the lives of people who were in need of support, whether because of domestic  violence, disability or other disadvantage.  I think it’s fair to say that Fran’s time at Tai Cymru was one of the happiest and most fulfilling parts of her career.

Fran’s rise to prominence in the arts began with the Arts Council of Wales.  She joined as Director of Planning at one of the lowest ebbs of ACW’s existence. At a time of huge potential, with funding from the Lottery flowing in and the opportunity for the arts to play a key role in inspiring and defining a post-devolution Wales, the Council was divided within itself and had lost the confidence of the arts community.  Fran took on the role of Acting Chief Executive, and became probably the youngest chief executive ever of a major public body in Wales. She began a process of healing both internally and externally which set the organisation on a path to a revitalised future and foreshadowed a period of growth and development in the arts far removed from the acrimony of its gestation.

Her continued work in the arts, as consultant, board member, supporter and friend is well known. She passionately believed in the transformational power of the arts but was more than capable of puncturing an overblown ego when the occasion demanded.

I have an abiding vision of Fran after her debilitating illness first struck, cutting a piratical figure with crutch and eye patch in a well worn leather jacket – bloodied, but unbowed. Her loss will be keenly felt, her contribution remembered and her many friends and admirers saddened, but respectful of the decision which she took thoughtfully, as she had lived.


Aleksandra Jones 
(Co-Director on the project Women in Pregnancy with Frances Medley for two years)

Sometimes, life brings us people who are not with us for long, but have a huge influence on our work and life.  Fran was one of those people for me: a friend, a sister, a colleague and a sophisticated Fairy Godmother to my daughter Mirjana. She inspired me and was a great support to me, my work and my family.

She never thought about herself, and gave of herself unconditionally to people around her.
Thank you dear friend for all your love, I will never forget you.

Pauline Crossley

On behalf of National Youth Arts Wales

Fran believed in the creative power and potential of young people.  She was a tireless advocate for emerging talent, and for opportunities that would promote and support future generations of creators, makers, performers and producers.

Fran became Chair of National Youth Arts Wales (NYAW) in 2006.   She helped to redefine its mission and artistic vision, and was instrumental in formulating ambitious and strategic developments for NYAW that are challenging, inventive and liberated, yet mindful of tradition and training.

Fran took her responsibilities to heart and with no half-measures; she retired from the NYAW Steering Group in March 2013 following seven years of dedicated, active and productive service.  She was a great listener and a valuable sounding-board; she was pragmatic and patient (though, on occasion, I know her impatience was well disguised!); she was provocative – quick to challenge with “why?”, “what for?” or “so what?” – playing devil’s advocate to make sure our motives and propositions were sound.

With a generosity of time, energy and spirit that knew no bounds, and with humility and selflessness, Fran made her mark on the arts and culture of Wales  – and touched the personal and professional lives of so many along the way.

Without doubt we will miss her but, with echoes of her good sense, quick wit and reminders to keep young people at the heart of everything we do – Fran will be ever-present and smiling.

Thank you, Fran.

Sian Thomas
Farewell dearest Friend. There are so many lives here in Wales that have been enriched through knowing you, working with you and playing with you. We have truly lost one of our brilliant shining lights and you will be sadly missed. Your energy and determination, right to the last days was extraordinary, enviable and admirable – meeting, mentoring and supporting, going to see work and helping to present it, always with style and never grudgingly.

There are many artists, dancers, theatre practitioners, writers, makers, movers and shakers and simply friends who have expressed their
gratitude to you these last couple of weeks, all with a deep sense of loss. Here, in no particular order, are some of their words: unique,
brave, witty, intelligent, amazing, remarkable, enthusiastic, wicked sense of humour, loyalty, clarity, integrity, wisdom, generosity, passionate, deep sense of caring for others, willingness to help, going the extra mile, energetic, kindness, courage, support, encouragement, insight, friendship, inspiration, mentor, champion, confidante, dignity, sophisticated, victorious. I know that’s a list
and it’s not even grammatically correct – never-mind lacking in sophistication – please accept my apologies!

The strength and courage you have shown in taking the decision to leave us at the moment of your choosing, although filling me with
sadness, inspires in me a deep respect for your ability to live your life on your terms and to leave in a totally dignified manner. I will
miss you dear, dear friend, I’ve already got a list of questions to run by you, I guess I’ll just have to be brave and work out the answers
With love, and wishing you eternal peace and happiness,
Sian x