Tribute to Barbro Westerholm

Barbro Westerholm

Last 13 March, we sadly lost one of our human rights champions and ‘family members’. Barbro Westerholm had tremendous importance for AGE since its creation. She will be greatly missed.

Born in Stockholm, Barbro Westerholm had a long career as a doctor, researcher, civil servant, Member of Parliament, chairman and expert for AGE Swedish member organisation SPF Seniorerna. Throughout her life, Barbro had been actively advocating for equality for all. She wanted people to be free and able to choose for themselves how they wanted to lead their life. Within AGE, Barbro was highly committed to the fight against ageism and age discrimination, first as Vice-President when the organisation was founded in 2001, then as member of our Task Force on Healthy Ageing, and as our representative in the Patients’ and Consumers’ Working Party of the European Medicines Agency. Always supportive and responsive, she was eager to learn and to kindly share her knowledge and experience.

We express our deepest sympathy to her family and friends.

“We mourn a born advocate for equality for older people. Barbro will be remembered across Europe for her tireless efforts to enable everyone to live fully, regardless of their chronological age or any other personal condition. Farewell, our Friend!” – Maciej Kucharczyk, AGE Secretary General

“With her gentle yet efficient manners, Barbro was a role model for me since I joined AGE. I admired how all her life she remained committed to combating all forms of discrimination and continued to support AGE action until her last days. I will keep the memory of a wonderful woman fully devoted to making society more inclusive through her professional live and as an active volunteer in retirement” – Anne-Sophie Parent, former Secretary General AGE Platform Europe

“I will miss Barbro so much. For many years she has been a guiding light for everyone who wants to develop our country for the better. Whether it was the elderly, the sick or homosexuals” – states Peter Sikström, Secretary General of SPF Seniorerna

“The void left by Barbro will never be filled. She was not only a political force in the Swedish debate for many, many years but also a role model for me and many others” – Eva Eriksson, President of SPF Seniorerna.

“I met Barbro Westerholm in 2003 when 50plus Hellas joined Age Platform Europe. She was already elected and serving on the Administrative Board. Soon after we got to know one another as part of a research team looking into the situation of older women in the EU in 12 EU member states. (The MERI project 2002-04) Barbro and Birgitta Lindencrona from the Swedish Association of Senior Citizens, had to gather data and were completely inundated by the vast amount of available data and reports in Sweden. This contrasted with Greece where we could find just 9 research reports. At the time it proved very amusing and this is how I remember Barbro, laughing at the colossal differences between our countries. It was at that time I began to understand what a hard-working person she was and how much she dedicated herself to helping older people both in and out of the Swedish Parliament. She stopped being an MP when she felt she had nothing new to offer and then, after working with AGE Platform Europe, once again stood and was re-elected. For many of us associated with AGE, she remained a beacon of how one should continue to be useful as far as possible to the needs of others in one’s society in older age. And I will also remember her for her humour and kindness” – Liz Mestheneos, former AGE President.

“It is with great sadness that we communicate the passing of Barbro Westerholm, the AGE Platform Europe representative in the PCWP. Barbro was a long-standing representative in the PCWP and a dedicated colleague. Barbro has contributed to many discussions at the level of both PCWP and HCPWP. Her experience and commitment to older people were highly appreciated. She will be missed” – Juan García Burgos, Head of Public and Stakeholders Engagement Department, Stakeholders and Communication Division, European Medicines Agency.

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