Tributes paid to former principal

Dr Eileen Alexander.
Dr Eileen Alexander.

Tributes have been paid to a former principal of Bedford College of Physical Education who has died aged 102.

Dr Eileen Alexander OBE was principal from 1951 until 1971 and became active within the community during her long life.

Her funeral was held at St Paul’s Church, Bedford, on Monday, February 17, where the tributes were made to highlight her many achievements during a long and distinguished career.

Professor Margaret Whitehead described Dr Alexander’s early career as a teacher, later as a schools’ inspector before being made principal at Bedford. She was instrumental in seeing the then private college become part of the education service of the former Beds County Council.

She said: “Eileen made a tremendous contribution to physical education and physical activity.

“She was a formidable force, a perceptive and able educator, an astute negotiator and a skilful business woman.”

Dr Alexander served on many organisations associated with sport and education, and later in life set up the Alexander Trust.

Prof Whitehead added: “Eileen was enormously generous with her money, but largely only on projects that furthered her passion for quality physical education experiences for young people.”

Dr Paddy Barrett described her early life in Yorkshire and her move to London where her passion for physical education was discovered at college.

He said: “A pioneer in education, an acute businesswoman, a philanthropist, and a good friend, Eileen made a difference to her world.”

A Soroptimist for 62 years and a staunch Anglican, Dr Alexander was a member of St Paul’s Church in Bedford which she supported generously.

Dr Barrett added: “Eileen was physically and mentally fit all her life. Her brain retained its sharpness virtually to the end. She had a dry sense of humour and relished a good-natured debate.”

Dr Alexander lived in Bushmead Avenue until she was 100 before moving to a nursing home in Bedford.

She died on January 20.