Scotswoman of the Year winner set to be crowned

WOMEN from all walks of life will descend on the City Chambers tonight for the unveiling of the Scotswoman of the Year.

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The Swoty winner will follow in the footsteps of Erin McNeill, who won last year
The Swoty winner will follow in the footsteps of Erin McNeill, who won last year

The majestic surroundings of Glasgow's council HQ will play host to the 2013 award presentation.

Evening Times editor Tony Carlin and Anne Ledgerwood, general manager of the our event sponsor St Enoch Centre, whittled down dozens of nominations to a final shortlist.

And one of the five ­finalists - Noreen Siddiqui, Geraldine Lynch, Madalena Brown, Ann Moulds and Dr Jean Turner - will become the 51st winner, following in the footsteps of Erin McNeill, the 23-year-old burns victim who will be handing over the crown to her successor tonight.

Mr Carlin, who will host the event, said: "Scotswoman of the Year has a proud tradition of honouring women who make a significant difference to the lives of others through their remarkable works and deeds.

"This year has been no exception with some magnificent nominees, and a group of finalists who are truly inspirational.

"Each of our finalists, as in so many years in the past, would be worthy winners and it is our honour to be able to celebrate their incredible work and achievements."

Noreen Siddiqui is the supermum who has raised almost £200,000 for charity as her daughter battles leukaemia.

When Ayesha was ­diagnosed with leukemia, the Newton Mearns mum says it felt like "a hard kick in the stomach".

The little girl, who is now nine, needs a life-saving bone marrow transplant but as she is half Caucasian and half Middle Eastern, her chances of finding a match are slim.

Almost two decades ago, Geraldine Lynch met a young mum in the Royal Sick Kids' Hospital at Yorkhill.

"Her little boy had a spinal cord injury and she could only get her son home when a ventilated wheelchair was available," recalls Geraldine.

"And I remember thinking - well, what can I do about this? So I raised the money for the wheelchair..."

That was the start of Geraldine's association with Spinal Injuries Scotland, of which she is now a director.

Ann Moulds 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 legal profession.

Ann, originally from Ayrshire, was forced to relocate more than 80 miles away, losing her business and home and leaving behind friends and family, while her stalker continued to freely walk the streets where she once lived.

Dr Jean Turner has been a GP and an MSP, and she now heads up Scotland's Patients' Association, a national non-political advocacy group.

But in everything she does, standing up for people who may not otherwise have a voice, is key.

"When you are faced with the distressing situation of being in hospital, perhaps your husband or wife is dying, and you are surrounded by consultants and doctors but no-one is listening, then who do you turn to?" asks Jean.

Madalena Brown was told there were no support services for her disabled son Stephen once he turned 16, she refused to accept it.

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. Madalena and a group of dedicated parents hired staff and overcame negative attitudes to make the centre a success.

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.

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