GRETHE FRYDENLUND AWARD 2023
One of the first things that Grethe Frydenlund did after IF was formed in 1979 was to enlist Inger Malterud to set up and administer the Office. This was a masterstroke as this important and central function couldn’t have been placed in more capable hands. Inger organised how the Forum was run and was very clever at finding the right person for the many tasks which needed doing. I remember going into the Office one day to be greeted by a very happy and smiling Inger, who said with great enthusiasm ‘I’ve found just the person to be our new Editor! She’s a lovely Scottish lady and she’ll be perfect!’ This lovely Scottish lady was Elspeth, who by then had already been on the Music Committee for seven years and as a result was a ‘dab hand’ at making canapés.
Elspeth (Elizabeth Kean Fraser) Walseth was born and grew up in Ayr, South-West Scotland. Looking back, she remembers a happy early childhood with family visiting, enjoying music and singing against a background of war and family illness. Family has always been an important part of her life and even though they are spread to different countries, Elspeth does her share in arranging the family reunions often in her beloved Scotland.
Relaxing on the terrace
From the age of five she attended Ayr Academy, a traditional Scottish Academy founded in 1233 (as a monastery school for boys). She enjoyed all that the school offered including some excellent teachers, music, sports, and a debating society. Elspeth was rather musical, she particularly enjoyed playing the piano and singing, so that taking part in the school’s annual presentation of a Gilbert and Sullivan Opera was a source of much pleasure and enjoyment.
From a performance of Iolanthe in 1955. Elspeth is fifth from the left on the second row. (The ‘shepherdess’ in the front row is Moira Anderson, (OBE), who went on to be one of Scotland’s most well-known singers.)
She obviously enjoyed her time at school, taking the school motto: Respice, Prospice (‘Look backwards, Look forwards’) as a motto for her own life. She remembers that her mother constantly encouraged education and women working, something that she has tried to continue.
Elspeth in her old brownie uniform
At the top of Snøhetta
Following school, she spent four happy years studying Pharmacy at Glasgow University. It wasn’t just hard work, as being a student had its fun side too – such as enjoying a record of Bill Haley’s Rock around the Clock, in the Women’s Union, smuggled in from the U.S. in 1956! or dressing up for the students’ annual Charities Day.
Elspeth was able to follow her love of music by sitting in the Gods when the Royal Opera visited Glasgow or during the Scottish National Orchestra’s series of concerts and proms. Outdoor sports such as hill walking and ‘attempted skiing’ in Glencoe and around Aviemore were also activities to enjoy, not to mention tennis, swimming and dancing.
Then, after Elspeth met and married Ivar, they came to Norway: Sunndalsøra, to be precise, for the first six months. She continued to pursue her lifelong pleasure in walking by exploring Trollheimen and even struggled up Innerdalshorn. Then some years later, she walked to the top of Snøhetta. Due to the local dialect, she had virtually to re-learn Norwegian when they relocated to Oslo.
For the first few years in Norway, the focus was on family-life and children. Then, encouraged by Ivar, Elspeth started working, first as a hospital pharmacist at Ullevål, and then for many years (until retirement in fact) at Diakonhjemmet Hospital. As well as being a clinical pharmacist on the wards, she focused on quality assurance at the hospital and nursing homes. These were fulfilling years with good colleagues, many of whom she still keeps in touch with.
Elspeth giving a presentation of Norwegian Clinical Pharmacy at an International Congress in Florida
Perhaps Elspeth’s love of travelling started back in 1952, when the school organised a two-weeks trip to Switzerland (in school uniform). She recalls what a wonderful experience it was to travel from the Alps to Lugano – quite a contrast to the meagre times of post-war Scotland. Now, together with Ivar, they set out to visit many different countries. First journeying by car to France, Italy and Austria, then further afield with the children. It was natural to visit family settled in California and explore that part of North America. There followed journeys to Marrakech, Greece, Bavaria, Latin America and not to mention the Far East, including Thailand and a visit to Rangoon. It was a real adventure to go ballooning in Burma, but perhaps the most exciting trip was sailing round Cape Horn and on to the Falkland Islands.
In Burma (Myanmar)
The Golden Triangle
Nowadays Elspeth and Ivar enjoy spending a month in Madeira each spring, catching up with friends and appreciating the climate, flowers, and wonderful fish and fruits – a welcome change from winter in Norway.
She says that meeting regularly with Scottish friends for a good ‘blether’ and laugh during these many, many years has been a great ballast in her life.
Elspeth has been a member of International Forum since 1989. She quickly became involved in the different aspects of Forum Life. After being a member of the Music Committee (as mentioned already), she joined the Monthly Meeting Committee and then for several years took on the work of Editor, before moving on to the Editorial Team.
Behind a Greek urn
For many years, she also organised the Dispatch Group, which ensured that everyone was sent the Newsletter on time every month. (This task is now handled digitally.) All members of the group really appreciated the delicious lunch which Elspeth invited us all to at the end of each Forum year.
It’s many years since she took over the post of Secretary. Not only does she take the minutes at Executive Committee meetings and the AGM, but she also compiles the Annual Report, which in itself is no small task. Another one of those jobs which no-one notices until it isn’t attended too.
Elspeth is not the person to push herself forward, but she is very competent and almost always has a good suggestion to make if applied to. You might be surprised at how observant she is. This has led to a major revision of the Statutes almost ten years ago. Following that, the development of a set of guidelines concerning the different aspects of running International Forum. In both of these, Elspeth played a major part.
Elspeth is a warm and caring person with a great sense of humour, and we are lucky and very grateful that she is so generous in sharing her considerable skills. She is indeed a very worthy recipient of the Grethe Frydenlund Award.
Patricia A. Blackwell