Francis grew up in Monmouth and went to St Michael's College, Tenbury and then on to Monmouth School. Following two years of a mechanical engineering course, Francis changed direction and spent four years studying the cello with Derek Aviss at Trinity College of Music, London.
He then went on to study with William Pleeth and Alexander Baillie before becoming No. 3 cellist in the LPO in 1989.
Francis is also a keen sailor – specialising in dinghy racing – and road cyclist, as well as many other outdoor activities. He has two children, both of whom are musical.