Supporters of the Wycombe- founded women’s organisation gathered on The Rye today March 8 to mark the International Women’s Day and honour the memory of Dr Frances Alexander.

Dr Alexander founded ‘Women Welcome Women World Wide’, known as 5W, in 1984 to carry out the idea of international friendship, understanding and increasing women’s self-confidence.

After leaving school to become a nurse and then midwife, Dr Alexander worked as a girls’ career adviser and travelled widely through Europe, North and South America, Australia and Russia to build bridges.

At home she focused on environmental issues, which led to the opening of first Environment Centre in High Wycombe in a disused café building on The Rye for residents to investigate local environmental issues.

READ MORE: Dr Frances Alexander: Former mayor and prominent High Wycombe figure passes away

The community was devastated to hear of Dr Alexander’s passing in 2020 at the age of 84 during the Covid pandemic.

Unable to commemorate their friend at the time, 5W, supporters and Dr Alexander’s family planted a walnut tree on The Rye’s edge along London Road today.

Speakers described her as a true visionary and an enabler for things to happen.

Louise Alexander, daughter of the dearly missed trailblazer, councillor and former Mayor, said: “She was a girls’ career adviser at the time, when the career options for women were a teacher, nurse or…”

“Secretary!”, the audience responded laughing.

Bucks Free Press:

Ms Alexander also remembered their travels to Ukraine and the people they met there in the 90s with warmth.

A 5W trustee Sue Coventry said: “She was particularly keen to recruit members from the former Soviet block and Russia.

“She would be truly horrified if she knew what was going on in Ukraine today.”

Now with a membership of around 2000 in the UK and around the world, 5W organised an International Women’s Day Conference after the tree planting, focusing on leadership and inclusion at the Wycombe Arts Centre.

Standing on the sunny Rye looking at the walnut trees, Caroline Stevens from 5W said: “Frances must be looking down on us with this weather.”

“She used to come here with her mobility scooter and check on the trees.

“As the Wycombe Mayor her phrase was ‘think global, act local’.”