THE magnificent surroundings of the City Chambers rang out with applause and laughter as women from all walks of life greeted the 51st Scotswoman of the Year.

As Ann Moulds took her place as the newest recipient of the prestigious ­accolade, she was loudly ­applauded by the audience of more than 200.

Fellow finalist Noreen Siddiqui, who has worked tirelessly to find a bone marrow donor for her daughter Ayesha, said: "It's the first time I've been at an event like this which is ­celebrating women's achievements.

"When you hear what other people have done and what they've achieved in their lives, it's just amazing."

And her comments were echoed by Gail Sheridan, who said: "It's a very humbling experience. You feel inadequate but inspired.

"You sit at a table where everybody's equal, no matter from what walk of life you come from; you could be sitting beside stars from the screen, or a wee woman from Cranhill, and everyone's the same.

"There really is no other occasion like it."

Singer, actress and columnist Michelle McManus, said: "This event never fails to make me realise how many magnificent women there are, working quietly in the backroom and making a great contribution to so many people's lives.

"This has been a wonderful evening."

Former Swoty winner and River City actress, ­Eileen McCallum, said she had been overwhelmed by the response she had from members of the public after winning the award.

She won the accolade after devoting her life to raising money to fund ­research into muscular ­dystrophy, a condition her two grandsons have.

She said: "It was a great privilege to win this award and after hearing Ann Moulds' story she is a worthy winner. Such a brave woman."

And fellow former Swoty Sandra Brown, who campaigned for years to have her father Alexander Gartshore named as the prime suspect in the murder of schoolgirl Moira Anderson, shed a tear as she was praised by Evening Times editor Tony Carlin for the years she has spent campaigning and for the creation of the ­Moira Anderson Foundation.

She said: "That was ­totally unexpected. I only did what I knew I had to do.

"Being a part of this evening is a wonderful thing, an experience that I always savour.

"These women prove that anything is possible and it is only right that we praise them in this way."

Former Swoty finalist Shirley-Ann Barnes, of Breast Way Round, a group of motorbike riders who raise money for cancer ­research, said: "I have ­always felt honoured and humbled to attend the ­Swoty event, since I was a nominee in 2009.

"I have been in awe of the courage and determination and sheer power of will that so many women can bring. It is always an emotional, glittering and inspirational event.

"It is an honour to be here."

Among the audience were representatives from a variety of charities, businesses, the entertainment industry and sport.

Liz Smith, practice development facilitator at Prince and Princess of Wales ­Hospice, said: "I think it's really inspirational to see how women can make a ­difference in society."

And Anne Ledgerwood, general manager of St Enoch Centre, which has sponsored the event for the last seven years, praised the three award winners.

She said: "Describing our winner, Ann Moulds, as Scotswoman of the Year is an understatement.

"Her long-running campaign to protect women from stalkers has resulted not only in a change of law north of the Border, but also across the rest of the UK and potentially Europe.

"To make her case, Ann waived her anonymity to speak publicly about her own horrendous experience of stalking.

"In doing so, she succeeded in turning a dark and difficult episode into a positive, and helped to give stalking victims a voice.

"The winner of our ­Editor's Award, Madalena Brown, also overcame ­personal tragedy to change the lives of others for the better.

"Madalena spent six years campaigning to establish a centre in Hamilton for the families of disabled children after encountering a lack of services for her disabled son Stephen.

Tragically, Stephen lost his life 15 years ago, but the Aveyron Centre, built as a result of Madalena's ­endeavours, continues to offer help and support.

"There can't be many Scots who haven't heard of Judy Murray, thanks to her famous sons, but it is less well known that Judy is a tennis star in her own right.

"A leading tennis coach for more than 20 years, she is passionate about making the game as accessible as possible, and is a tireless fundraiser for cancer charities.

"That's why we've made her our Sportsperson of the Year."