5W

Elinor Warkentin

Chair of Trustees, Women Welcome Women Worldwide

Vancouver, Canada

I was saddened to hear of the passing of an amazing woman, who made a difference around the world. I joined 5W in 1999 and had the pleasure of meeting Frances several times, and being hosted in her home on a few of my visits. It was an honour to meet the 5W Founder and amazing to hear her life stories and watch her in action. On one of my visits Frances said I was welcome to stay but she would be busy with campaigning for an election that was underway during my travels. As we do in 5W, I asked to participate in whatever she was up to. I had the most fun going door to door campaigning with her, telling householders “Hi, I’m from Canada. I can’t vote here but if I could, I’d vote for Frances!” and handing them brochures. I can still picture that sunny afternoon. 


5W has changed my life. From becoming a member in order to meeting women around the world, to bringing me global friends, and then getting involved as a volunteer Trustee and attending international board meetings, 5W has become a big part of who I am and how I live. 5W has opened up travel opportunities and experiences I would not have otherwise. I think often of how my grandfather, who used to tell us travel stores when I was knee high, would be proud of me, for participating in helping 5W continue. I have Frances to thank for that. I have Frances to thank for much of the travel adventures that have added to my life for the past two decades. I have Frances to thank for precious friendships on multiple continents.


Frances’s passion, her feminism, her desire to create a better world, is a legacy that will live on through 5W. Bless you Frances, on your journey to another realm. 

Caroline Stevens

Office Manager, Women Welcome Women Worldwide

Like so many women around the world, I have Frances to thank for showing me the importance of friendship and cultural exchange around the world, something I might have taken time to realise without listening to her inspiring words and thoughts. I first met Frances when I worked as her temporary secretary during her term as Mayor.  She mentioned that she had the perfect job in mind for me at this ‘little organisation’ she had founded.  That turned out to be Women Welcome Women World Wide (5W) an international group for women with thousands of members around the world and how right she was, as I am still working here 21 years later.  Fondly referred to as her ‘I have an idea’ moment and an idea that has touched the lives of so many women.

I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work alongside Frances in the office, to have heard so many of the stories from the early days of 5W and experience the whirlwind that was Frances!  I was always amazed at her enthusiasm for life and the world and how tirelessly she worked in promoting our organisation, along with the many other aspects of her very busy life.  As well as the serious side, she had such a sense of fun and we have so many photos of her from her trips to visit members, showing her dancing the tango in the streets, dancing with the ‘Witches’ in Belgium, attending a Tea Party at the House of Lords and being welcomed into the homes and hearts of so many women around the world.  5W is proud to have been founded by such an inspiring woman and members have been telling us how much smaller and less interesting their lives would have been without Frances and 5W.

I was glad to have been able to visit Frances at her new flat over the past year and to see how happy she was to be able to look out over her beloved town of High Wycombe from her balcony, a perfect choice for her.  We enjoyed sharing lunch and a glass of wine in the restaurant and generally putting the world to rights!

Thank you Frances, by creating 5W, you opened the world for so many women and your Global Village will miss you.

Hazel Burnett

Trustee

Women Welcome Women Worldwide

I only met Frances twice, but have known of her so much longer.   I joined Women Welcome Women in the early 1990’s and this is something that changed my life forever and for the better.  Frances’s idea has led me to learn so much about our world and the women who live around it. Women who now form a network of friends around the globe. 

How lucky I count myself to have discovered this wonderful organisation and to have met Frances with her amazing foresight and determination. Her vision offered the opportunity to enjoy the company of so many people, whilst experiencing kindness, friendship and laughter around the world would not otherwise be possible..

Sue Coventry

Trustee, Women Welcome Women Worldwide

Being both a member and a Trustee of Women Welcome Women World Wide has enriched my life, and I and many others have Frances to thank for that, because without her there would have been no 5W.

 I first met Frances in early 2011.  I was one of a small group of members invited to stay at a holiday home in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales,    owned by another 5W member.  To my surprise and amazement, Frances was also there, having travelled up from High Wycombe.  She had brought her 5W ‘cabinet of treasures’ which needed re-organising, and we all spent time helping with re-organise the items, all of which have some special 5W significance.

After a day or two in her company, Frances began to ask me if I’d ever considered becoming a Trustee.  My answer was “No”, I had not.  And, left to my own devices, I never would have.  But with Frances’ encouragement, and after considering it for a year or so, I went ahead with an application, and in 2013 I was accepted onto the Board of Trustees.

After that, and whenever I visited HW, I met Frances on many occasions.  Whenever we had our Annual Trustees Meeting in the UK the Trustees would have lunch with her in High Wycombe, and sometimes at her home.  She was always interested to know how we were all getting on, and to share her memories and anecdote s.

Frances was an amazing woman, with a remarkable skill for getting things done.  Her achievements are truly astonishing and 5W is a wonderful legacy.  Thank you, Frances.

Janene Hancock

Trustee, Women Welcome Women Worldwide

Australia

I joined 5W in 2002 and was fortunate to meet Francis while in High Wycombe for a Trustees’ meeting. Her passion for travel, 5W, memories and everything in between was inspiring. A lady with enthusiasm that carried you into her world of ideas.
I was fortunate to become a Trustee several years later and I try to insert information about 5W in every conversation I have with other women. This organisation gave me the opportunity to meet so many fascinating, articulate and inspiring women over the last 18 years and has had a positive impact on different aspects of my life.
Thank you Frances for being so ahead of your time and creating 5W.

Maria Paulusz

Member

Women Welcome Women Worldwide

Brasov, Romania

I met Frances Alexander in Budapest. She approached us, who came from the old communist states, kindly, directly and lovingly, offered us the opportunity to join the WWW organization, that she founded. It was a great gift to allow us to travel to England, where we were also able to learn about her community responsibilities at High Wycombe. Her modesty was an example to me. When she visited Brasov, Romania, she encouraged us to help poorer women as well. Her smile, warm personality will remain in my memory forever. 

Kumud Banarse

Long-standing member of Women Welcome Women Worldwide

There are a few people in the world who make a ‘difference’, and Frances was one of them. It is through 5W that I met Frances. She had placed a small advert in the National Sunday Observer which had caught my eye. It was about a women’s group – I cannot remember exact details, but it sounded interesting, and I attended the first meeting which took place in Frances’s front room with a handful of women.  Reflecting back, the group felt like a few women getting together. No one had any idea then, that this small group would turn into an International one! However, with Frances’s enthusiasm,  perseverance,  and visionary outlook the group has grown into an international organisation, and now proudly boasts a membership of  two thousand or more members around the world. 

The first gathering was in Belgium – and being the first, no one was sure what to expect, including Frances herself! I think there were about seven or eight of us, all very excited.  The Belgium members were warm and welcoming, they accommodated us, showed us around their City, and just generally entertained us.  We all had lots to talk about, particularly about future  Get-togethers!

5W- short for Women Welcome Women World Wide, has not only allowed women to form  friendships across the Globe, but has encouraged safe travel. Especially,  for someone like me,  from a very protective Indian background!  I first started by attending the wonderful Gatherings organized by members around the World, and then went ‘solo’! So 5W was kind of a springboard for the start of my travels!

The second  big adventure  was Iceland- this time we stayed in a Hostel.  Again, we were shown around by the local members – we saw the beautiful Glaciers, walked by the wondrous Geysirs and were invited to tea by the first female  president – Vigdis Finnbogadottir – a very special experience!  

We visited Japan together, this was not a Gathering as Frances was travelling to promote 5W. However, once we arrived  in Japan – gatherings just materialised wherever we went! The local members went out of their way to put on a show. Frances was treated like the Queen – I always thought Frances resembled Her Majesty a little, but I think the Japanese members thought she was the Queen.
We had a great time, we travelled from south to north- walked through the beautiful Sakuras (cherry blossom), and in the North bathed in hot natural baths, whilst the outside was locked in snow!

I have lots of fond memories of Frances, and have learnt a lot from her passion, and beliefs, but Women Welcome Women World Wide has opened up the world for me and many other women. Thank you Frances. Rest in peace.

Catherine Lodge

Member

Women Welcome Women Worldwide

Munich, Germany

Inspired by my sister’s membership, I joined 5W in the early days, my membership number being 300 and something. I first met Frances at the important, huge and moving gathering in Budapest in the early 90’s, and immediately recognised her inspiring qualities and vision for the organisation, her principles of global hospitality and friendship, and her graciousness. She was a natural figurehead.

My most vivid personal memory was of her visit to a member here in Munich, on a stop-over on her way to Japan, I believe. She had brought the famous quilt with her, which she unfolded in the middle of the living room, whereupon she enjoined the four of us to sing the 5W anthem with her, to our mild discomfort. Later on we became friends on Facebook and she often adopted my ecological postings for her own projects. I sincerely hope her legacy will survive and flourish.

Denise Bureau

Member

Women Welcome Women Worldwide

I’ll always be grateful to Frances. Thanks to her, I had wonderful years of retirement, travelling around the world and making friends on every continent. May she rest in peace !

Sally Piper-Pillitteri

Organiser of gatherings

Women Welcome Women Worldwide

France & Laos

Frances leaves us her wonderful legacy of 5W friendships worldwide, and has the perpetual gratitude of thousands of women of different nationalities and circumstances. That is a huge example to us all of how an “idea” can go forth and multiply for good.

Every time I organise a gathering and have the joy of meeting women from all points of the compass, I silently thank Frances for setting up 5W and giving us this opportunity. Our role in 5W now is to perpetuate this vast friendship circle, with enthusiasm and delight. 

Sylvia Butler

Member

Women Welcome Women Worldwide

Birmingham, UK

I  met Frances on a bench in 1989 in Berlin, 3 weeks before the fall of the Berlin wall.  I was a youth worker with a youth exchange and we were waiting for the bus to take us to Tegal airport.  We chatted and I found out why she was in Berlin. I was desperate to travel and in Frances and 5W I  found the courage to meet other like women and enrich my life.

Diane Norman

Member, 5W

Montreal, Canada – currently Covid-confined in New Zealand

I very much appreciated  being able to immerse myself in other cultures during my travels through my membership in 5W. But more than that I valued Frances’ example. She fought for the things she believed in and right until the end was engaged in building a better world. Her intergenerational and intercultural friendships and collaborations were inspirational.

I am currently working with various community groups here to plant peace gardens of trees, with friendship seats for conversation and dialogue. I hope to continue this initiative on my return to Montreal, a city which is also part of the movement. May I suggest that it become a member as a tribute to Frances, and that 5W members worldwide try and have their communities join the movement.

When I learnt of Frances’ passing I thought of the song line ‘ And the living shall not be in vain’.  She made a positive difference in the lives of so many people. May we all strive to keep her legacy alive.

Smilja Radosav

Member, Women Welcome Women Worldwide

Chile

Frances Alexander really was a great woman … I didn’t know she personally, but we had contact and she is really important in my life. I have been a member since 1997, and thanks to Frances I had many interesting visits from the World and also could to visit some.

I am from ex-Yugoslavia, but living in Chile many, many Years with my Chilean husband. In the beginning when I arrived, I was very alone and thanks to 5W, I received many visitors here and met great women from all round the World. My the best friend here in Chile is Helen Conway, English Lady, living in Chile, member of 5W. When we had some financial problems and I couldn’t pay my membership and so Frances made me an honorary member….. So, Frances Alexander I will never forgot you or this organisation.

My best regards to the administration and all the members to 5W. Be positive in these difficult times…

Denise Bureau

Member

Women Welcome Women Worldwide

I’ll always be grateful to Frances. Thanks to her, I had wonderful years of retirement, travelling around the world and making friends on every continent. May she rest in peace !

Vera Haezaert

Trustee, Women Welcome Women Worldwide

Belgium

Ik werd lid van deze schitterende organisatie in 1994…. Toen kende ik Frances nog niet.
Ik ontmoette haar in Londen bij de inauguratie van de wallhanging  een quilt , gemaakt door vele 5W leden overal in de wereld. Ik maakte er ook een stukje voor.
Een tweede maal was in Japan, waar ze met Kumud Banarse 5W leden bezocht.
Ik heb niet veel de kans gehad om met haar te spreken, maar voor mij is ze wel een sterke persoonlijkheid, die de moed en het idealisme had om vrouwen over de hele wereld met elkaar in contact te brengen.
Dank u , Frances voor wat je verwezenlijkt hebt.

Wanda Boyton

Member, 5W

Merewether, Australia

I  was so lucky to meet Frances through Kumud Banarse, UK.  Kumud had organised for us to visit Frances 3rd July 2017 while I was on an extended holiday in UK.  We both thought it was for a cuppa and chat but Frances had other ideas and after morning tea at her home she asked that we put her wheelchair in the car as she had organised the whole day out.  We visited The Vicar of Dibley Church had lunch at the Bull and Butcher then to Henley-on-Thames. It is a memory that I hold dear and I am grateful to her founding 5W as it opened the world for me. 

Jutta Marzin

Member, 5W, Germany

I met Frances Alexander twice. One time many years ago on her stopover in Munich and last year in High Wycombe. Regardless of her physical frailty, she still exuded spiritual vitality on this occasion. 5W is for me one  of the most important assets in my life. Be it as a host or as guest traveling to different countries, it has always been an enrichment. I hope that I can enjoy this wonderful organisation for a long time.

Sue Khoo

Member, Women Welcome Women Worldwide

Adelaide, South Australia

Thank you dear, generous, smart and far-sighted woman – Frances Alexander.
With your visionary actions I, like many, have within a limited budget, experienced many parts of the world and have been hosted and welcomed by wonderful strangers, now friends, and have such splendid memories our latter years will be filled with joy!

Julia McLean

former Trustee, Women Welcome Women Worldwide

Normandy, France

I first heard Frances on Woman’s Hour just as she had launched WWW as we then called it. Woman’s Hour kindly gave me a contact number et voila!


I joined up and was on the board of trustees for a while. Frances also put me in contact with charities in the London area who were looking for volunteers so I was able to put my excess energy into some good works.


I hosted the very first French Gathering in my home in Normandy in the late Eighties. There were about eight British people and the next day we were joined by 2 Dutch ladies. I gave a tea party for various French friends to come and get to know the idea of WWW but French women were very tied to home and family and the thought of travelling with another woman or independently was anathema to them.


On Saturday evening I made traditional Norman food. We had Chicken in Cider, green salad, Camembert/Livarot/Pont l’Eveque cheeses and homemade apple tart with cream, drank a lot of French cider and a good time was had by all. Frances gave me a long piece of tapestry embroidered by her mother as a Thank You.


Frances instilled such a feeling of ‘Can-do’ in us and was so positive that the organisation grew by leaps and bounds. I received several guests in my home in London – a whole family (doctors) and their children from Eastern Europe who brought sleeping bags and all slept in the attic! Some members came to my home in France and Doreen Smith (who had been on the board of trustees with me) came over from New Zealand for a short stay a few years back.  I used the contacts when I was arranging trips for myself and my husband to know which buses went to the centre of a town from the airport, which hotels were in good central locations, names of restaurants. All these contacts made trips to Hong Kong and Singapore very easy. It was also before Trip Advisor and Booking.com took off! I still write to Doreen and send stamps to an Israeli lady who contacts me occasionally!


Frances was a true feminist. She believed we could do anything and knew the importance of networking long before it became so popular. She was such a determined lady and so generous with her time. She was a force to be reckoned with, like a Tsunami or a hurricane, but which only propelled the world forward in its ideas without causing any devastation. 
She worked so hard to improve the lot of those around her, inspire them with ideas of international peace and friendship that her loss is the real devastation.

Hilary Payne 

5W

An amazing woman who always had time for everyone, I don’t know how she did it! I moved to High Wycombe from London in 2004 and met Frances at some point, I can’t remember when or where, but every time I saw her we would have a chat. I stored a load of her equipment from the Environment Centre in my cellar for a while (including an amazing WW2 land mine spotter that I was so terrified of breaking in my cellar, I stored it under my bed instead). Frances sent me a beautiful hand written card with her thanks which I’ve kept to this day as it’s so rare but wonderful to get a hand written note rather than a hastily typed email. Proper old school, and much appreciated.

She was so very time generous, I remember talking to her about living in Hughenden village. My elderly godmother was thinking about moving to a similar place so I was asking her how she found it. In typical France’s fashion, she immediately invited me to visit, view the place and have a cup of tea. An inspirational life and one that was a privilege to meet.

Margaret Robinson

Member, 5W, Canada

Respected & admired from afar.  Thank you for all you have done.

Robyn Martin

Member, 5W, Australia

Frances is held in high esteem around the world. She inspires me to emulate her humanity. Thank you, Frances. I feel honoured to have known you.

Adelheid Ohlig 

5W

Dr. Frances Alexander created a world wide web when this word was not yet in the world. She founded a network for women to get to know the world through direct experience. I met her in her home shortly after she had founded 5W and interviewed her – at that time I was working as a journalist – for a German news agency.  In her house I felt immediately welcome. And I could meet other women, who already were members. I joined 5W and became a lifelong member. She inspired, encouraged, empowered women around the globe. Thank you so much dear Frances, your spirit lives on.

Agneta Rönnbäck

Trustee, 5W, Sweden

Jag har varit medlem i 5W sedan 1995 och träffade Frances första gången 2001 i New York, det var drygt en månad efter att tornen föll. Det var en träff hemma hos en medlem där Frances visade den stora väggdekorationen. Jag var i NY på en FN-kurs och vi hade en ledig dag som sammanföll med hennes besök. Så jag passade på att gå på träffen och fick träffa henne och några andra inspirerande medlemmar. Denna väggdekoration försvann sedan på vägen till Japan dit Frances sedan åkte för att visa den.

Nästa möte med henne var i High Wycombe 2009 när hon och Erik hämtade mig vid stationen och skjutsade mig till det ställe där medlemmarna som deltog i en gathering bodde. Jag skulle delta en dag av gatheringen och sedan åka vidare till mitt första årsmöte. Så det kändes verkligen hedrande att hon gav sig tid att skjutsa mig. Sedan har jag träffat henne de gånger som vi i styrelsen träffat henne i High Wycombe och jag minns särskilt den gången vi under hennes ledning var till miljöcentret, som hon skapat efter att hon gått i pension.

Jag minns henne som en naturkraft, en beslutsam person som fick saker gjorda. Och jag är tacksam att hon skapade denna fantastiska organisation för kvinnor som vi tillsammans ska fortsätta att ta hand om.

Vila i frid, Frances.

Val Fieth

Member, Women Welcome Women Worldwide

I met her at Destinations Travel Show in London before Internet. We did  gathering at Campus West Welwyn Garden City, Herts on IWD and hung the original quilts. I took photographs for her Golden Wedding. I met many lovely members and did a small gathering in Cornwall and in my house. Thank you Frances for many golden moments,

Gloria Hodgson

Member, Women Welcome Women Worldwide

I became the first member in Australia, after I read an article in a British magazine about Women Welcome Women in 1984. I wrote to Frances to become a member, and I am so pleased I did, as it has opened the world to me, no doubt to many other members.

Frances stayed with my late husband Reg & I, on her first and only visit to Australia in 1991. I hosted an afternoon tea for members & friends to meet Frances. We all enjoyed the afternoon.

I was also able to show some areas around Dora Creek.  we heard the “Bell Birds” at the foot of the Wattagan Mountains (near Dora Creek) which Frances enjoyed their sound.

Frances & I went to Manly for the day, the following day we flew to Brisbane in the state of Queensland then a coach to Toowoomba. This was for the first gathering in the Southern Hemisphere. It was a great few day, meeting members from overseas & many parts of Australia.

Marie Gracey

Member, Women Welcome Women Worldwide, Australia

Frances was a longtime friend and I cannot believe that she has gone. As the founder of 5W, Frances will be remembered forever. Her work with uniting the world, globally, through this organisation is exceptional. I met both during my travels to the U.K. and always enjoyed the chats and the cups of tea! As a family, you can be justly proud of Frances’ achievements, and there are many. To pass on so peacefully in her sleep depicts this remarkable woman.