Dozens of members of Dr Frances Alexander's women's group and her family gathered on The Rye to reveal her memorial bench.

Dr Frances Alexander - an environmentalist, former mayor of Wycombe and a women’s champion – established Women Welcome Women World Wide (5W) in the 1980s to foster friendship between women internationally.

She passed away during the Covid pandemic in 2020.

A commemorative bench was revealed in tribute to her on Friday (May 20) – two months after 5W planted a memorial tree on International Women’s Day.

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Cecilia Alexander, a 22-year-old playwright and the granddaughter of Dr Alexander said: “It’s different knowing there’s a bench there.

“It’s in memory of grandmom, and surrounded by people whose lives she touched, and you can see the text ‘Dr Francis Alexander’ .

“And it’s also really lovely to see such a public recognition of a place she loved and a place she tried to make so much change.

“So if even just one person sits on the bench and wonders who Dr Frances Alexander is and googles her, then that’s just a continuation of her legacy, which is really special.

Her daughter Louise Alexander emphasised how life-changing travelling and forming bonds with other women can be.

She said: “She was an inspiration and a visionary, but also how she was a very ordinary person who became a very extraordinary person and talked to people about what experiences made her like that, and most important was travel.

“She travelled when she was a teenager and she created this organisation so women throughout the world could travel and spend time not just seeing the world but being in each others’ homes.

“I travelled with Frances when I was 31, and I had my birthday in New York, but what was most important was seeing how women lived, what people had for breakfast in different places! I know it changed my life, because I came home, and I signed up for university.

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“So that’s just one of the ways travel changes peoples’ lives, and Frances knew to give people confidence to travel and give women confidence to travel and be friends with each other.

“So many of these women have stayed in each other’s homes, it’s given them a lot of confidence, and that’s what it’s about.

“She was an inspiration.”

Almuth Tharan from Germany, one of the trustees of 5W, told how she joined 5W and Dr Alexander's travels in the 1990s, when the Berlin Wall had fallen, and how out of the East German members she was one of the few who spoke English. 

She said: "We accompanied each other for 30 years. 

"We met in Kiev, then went to Donetsk. It was a very wild time after the Soviet Union had fallen. 

"Frances would hate how Ukraine has been destroyed." 

The 5W had organised an honorary lunch at All Saints Church in High Wycombe.

The bench was paid for by donations from the members of 5W.

Now the bench looks towards a place close to Dr Alexander’s heart - the Wycombe Environment Centre on The Rye.