A new bench has been installed in the Woodland Gardens in Bushy Park, courtesy of the Friends of Bushy and Home Parks to commemorate the life of Ann Sayer.
It was funded by a legacy left to the Friends by Ann, one of the group’s long-time members and volunteers and an active Teddington Society member.
Ann was 84 when passed away in 2020. She had worked at the Visitor Centre near The Pheasantry, such was her enduring love for the park.
Guardian writer Julie Welch wrote at the time: “Six feet tall, with immensely long legs and flying blond curls, Sayer had a relentless, unremitting stride that earned her the nickname “metronome”. In full flight she was a magnificent sight, Amazonian.”
The Friends hope the bench will become a meeting point for the many walking groups that frequently use the park.
A plaque on the bench reads:
Ann Sayer MBE 1932-2020. Long distance walker record holder. First British woman to walk 100 miles in under 24 hours. Awarded MBE in 2005 for Services to Sport. FBHP member and volunteer. Her legacy to Bushy Park is this meeting point.
Ann also rowed for Great Britain at the Women’s European Rowing Championships in 1960, 1962 and 1964.
In 1977 she became the first woman to qualify as a Centurion walking 100 miles in under 24 hours. In 1980 she set a still unbroken record for the fastest ever walk by a woman from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
In the 2005 Birthday Honours Ann Sayer was awarded a MBE for services to sport.
Sadly, she died from COVID-19 in 2020
A tree is also being planted nearby.
It is a Rowan, an upright Mountain Ash, reflecting the fact that Ann was a tall, upright, woman, who in her younger days as a member of the GB rowing team and she also enjoyed mountain walking.