Winning for women

ONE of Perth’s pioneering feminists celebrated her 100th birthday in Melville this week.

Win Froude’s special day was marked with cake, dozens of balloons and a card from the Queen.

Ms Froude was born in Perth on August 6 1918 and has lived her life as a strong, independent woman.

During her career as a teacher and principal she advocated passionately for equal pay for women, and as a girl guides leader fostered self-reliance.

“Self-reliance is a quality aunty Win has in bucketloads,” niece Linley Hann told the packed dining room at the Opal aged care facility in Myaree.

Guides

“She’d take the girls camping and teach them bush skills. One of my special memories was when she took us up to Lesmurdie and showed us some bush cooking, in particular how to mix up damper in a paper bag, stirring in the flour and water with a stick.

“And then you lit the fire on the ground using no more than two matches and you baked the damper on the coals.”

Girl guides assistant state commissioner Claire Veen presented Ms Froude with a state badge and personally thanked her for helping to set up the organisation in Collie, where she grew up.

Alongside her 80-year-long stint with the guides, Ms Froude became a teacher at 18 and was sent to Karloning in the Wheatbelt for her first placement.

• Win Froude turned 100 this week, and has paved the way for more independent women to follow. Photo by Molly Schmidt

“Karloning wasn’t even a town then; not even a hamlet,” said Ms Hann.

“It consisted of a wooden hall, three tennis courts and a lean-to structure at the end of the sandalwood cutter’s track.”

Ms Froude had to make do with very little resources and would take the children to collect gum nuts and sticks to use as “counters” in math class.

In her mid 40s, Ms Froude was promoted and moved to Perth to work as a principal.

She settled in Melville and bought a block on the hill on Kitchener Road, where her elderly mother joined her from Collie. Ms Froude left the back of her block as native bushland, enjoying the wildflowers including hardenbergia, kangaroo paws, buttercups and Swan River daisies that burst into bloom. “Of course there was a pet magpie,” says her niece.

Ms Hann says it was difficult to get a home loan as a single woman back then, and thinks her aunt may even have had to use one of her brother’s as a male guarantor.

“Eventually she proved she was more financially stable than he, though,” she laughed.  “There was no stopping Win and her fiercely independent spirit.”

Hall of Fame

In 2011 Ms Froude was admitted to the WA Women’s Hall of Fame which recognised her work with a number of volunteer organisations, and noted that at 93 she was still driving herself to King Edward Memorial Hospital at 5.30am to work in the cafe and gift shop.

Ms Froude interrupted those speaking about her, to tell them “I’m sure it’s all very nice, but I can’t hear a word of it.”

She thanked everyone for coming and “giving her such wonderful pleasure”.

by MOLLY SCHMIDT

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