IN the grand surroundings of the City Chambers, surrounded by some of Scotland's leading politicians, celebrities, sportswomen and entertainers, one woman held the room spellbound with her tale of courage and determination.

Ann Moulds, the 51st Evening Times Scotswoman of the Year, was stunned into silence when her name was announced as this year's winner.

But after "catching her breath", the woman whose tenacity and bravery drove through new stalking laws in Scotland, the rest of the UK and across Europe, spoke from the heart.

"Stalkers take away their victims' voices," she said, simply. "So I lent them mine."

Ann endured years of torment because of a stalker and has dedicated her life to helping other victims.

She waived her right to anonymity to speak out publicly about her experience, setting up Action Scotland Against Stalking in 2009 with the support of all political parties as well as criminal justice ­agencies, victim support organisations, health ­organisations, educational institutions and the legal profession.

In presenting her with the trophy, Evening Times editor Tony Carlin said: "Ann's case was classed as one of the worst recorded in Scotland and her fight for justice served to highlight the negative effects stalking can have on the individual and their families.

"But her story also demonstrates that it is still possible for a woman to find strength even when she is at her most vulnerable.

"And our inspirational Scotswoman of the Year has provided women everywhere who face such criminal adversity, with a belief that there is a way out of the darkness, by giving them not just a voice, but by giving them hope."

Ann's fellow finalist Madalena Brown was speechless when she received the Editor's Award in recognition of her work in setting up the Aveyron Centre for disabled teenagers and young adults.

Speaking afterwards, she said: "This is such an ­honour - I simply cannot believe it."

Madalena's son Stephen was severely disabled.

"When he turned 16, there was nothing available to help him and that just wasn't right," says Madalena.

"A group of parents got together and decided to build our own centre, which could help families with severely disabled children get the education and physiotherapy and life chances they needed."

Despite being turned down twice by the then Scottish Office and Strathclyde Regional Council, Madalena refused to give up, rallying support, gathering petition signatures and lobbying councillors. After six years, she was successful and the £1million Aveyron Centre in Hamilton was given the go-ahead.

Sadly, Stephen died, aged 28, in 1999, and Madalena retired from the centre shortly afterwards, handing over the reins to the national charity Sense Scotland.

"I was proud of what we achieved," she says, with a smile. "I firmly believe ­Stephen's purpose in life, his reason for being here, was to make a difference and he did. Others now ­benefit because of him."

As inspirational women go, Judy Murray is up there with the best of them.

More often than not mentioned as the mother of Wimbledon champions Andy and Jamie, she is an inspiration in her own right.

As captain of the Ladies Federation Cup team, Judy has battled against the establishment in her field and ensured that she has laid the groundwork for a genuine sporting legacy, reprensting her country as a competitor and mentoring at the very highest level.

For example, she recently supported a British Davis Cup team to its first victory against the United States on American soil in 111 years.

Evening Times editor Tony Carlin said: "It is Judy's dedication to offering tennis as an opportunity for all in society; her work in coaching and mentoring almost every key person in the world of British tennis; her support of those who are just starting on a journey which may bring elite success or simply a love of the sport, that make her a magnificent Scotswoman."

Judy said: "No-one does what they do for recognition or praise but it is such an honour to be presented with the Sports Person of the Year Award at SWOTY. My heart is racing - and I think my award pales into insignificance beside the achievements of Ann, Madalena and the other finalists."

More than 200 women attended the event, which also featured guest speaker Isobel Rutter, singer songwriter Lori McTear and the Kirkintilloch Ladies Choir.