ALMOST 250 women from all walks of life will fill Glasgow City Chambers tonight as the 50th Evening Times Scotswoman Of The Year is crowned.

The golden anniversary of the event, which is thought to be the UK's longest-running female achievement award, will be a glittering affair.

Glasgow-born rower Katherine Grainger, who became the only British woman in any sport to have won medals in four consecutive Olympic Games when she picked up the gold medal in London 2012, is guest speaker.

She is also one of the finalists, alongside 22-year-old burns survivor, beauty queen and fire service volunteer Erin McNeill, from Menstrie, Clackmannanshire, and Lisa Stephenson, 44, of Edinburgh, who has raised £250,000 for Maggie's, the cancer care charity.

Also competing for the title are:

l Blanche Nicolson, 64, from Ayrshire, who is client services director of Hansel, the pioneering learning disabilities support charity.

l Isabel McCue, who set up Theatre Nemo to help people with mental health issues following her son's suicide after suffering from schizophrenia.

l Julie Love, a Maryhill mum, who successfully campaigned for a change in the law surrounding the deaths of Scots overseas.

Distinguished guests will include Glasgow's Lord Provost Sadie Docherty.

She says: "Scotswoman Of The Year is a great opportunity to meet some wonderful women who do remarkable work.

"As only Glasgow's fourth female Lord Provost it gives me immense pleasure to welcome the Scotswoman Of The Year award to the city's splendid civic building.

"Women have always known they have special qualities that can bring positive change and make life better. Scotswoman Of The Year just confirms it in a very special way."

Host for the evening will be television presenter and journalist Cathy Macdonald, who has many fond memories of the awards.

"Scotswoman Of The Year is so moving," she says. "It is a night when everyone is equal, irrespective of position or privilege, and I am so proud to be a part of it."

Television presenter Lorraine Kelly is unable to attend tonight's event because of her daytime TV commitments in London, but she is a big fan of the award.

"Scotswoman Of The Year is a brilliant event – what a fantastic way to celebrate women's achievements and it is great it is still going strong after 50 years," she says.

"Women have achieved so much in the last five decades – I wonder what those who attended the very first lunch in 1963 would think of us now? I think they would be applauding."

Comedienne and actress Karen Dunbar was a guest speaker at the event in 2004.

She says: "I will never forget Olivia Giles' winning speech – what an incredibly moving and inspirational moment.

"Scotswoman Of The Year is a fantastic celebration of women's achievements – long may it continue."

Actress Libby McArthur, who stars in BBC soap River City, says: "Scotswoman Of The Year is a chance to acknowledge and celebrate Scottish womanhood at its best – something I wish we did more of. Every time I go, I laugh, cry, feel humble and learn something of value."

Radio presenter Janice Forsyth adds: "It is a terrific celebration of the brilliant, often unsung local heroines, who make the world a better place.

"In our celebrity-focused world, it's more important than ever to put these wonderful women and their quiet but spectacularly generous and important work, in the spotlight.

"Scotswoman Of The Year makes me proud to be Scottish – it is a privilege to be in the same room as all of these wonderful women."

l Don't miss tomorrow's Evening Times for an eight page pull-out celebrating the 2012 winner.

l Michelle McManus on Scotswoman Of The Year – page 20