AS the Evening Times prepares to announce its shortlist of candidates for Scotswoman of the Year 2016, last year’s winner, Dr Adele Patrick, founder of Glasgow Women’s Library, reveals what winning the title meant to her.


A FEW weeks after being crowned Evening Times Scotswoman of the Year at a glittering gala dinner in the City Chambers, Adele Patrick was hurrying along the Gallowgate on her way to Central Station to catch a train to London.

“It was the crack of dawn, so the streets were empty and I was rushing because I knew I was cutting it fine to get there in time,” she recalls.

“Next thing I know, a car has screeched to a halt beside me and a woman, someone I’ve never seen before in my life, leans out and says - aren’t you Adele the SWOTY?”

Adele beams: “I couldn’t believe it.

“She told me to jump in and she’d give me a lift to wherever I was going. And along the way, she told me how fantastic it had been for her to read all about me winning SWOTY – she said I’d brought the trophy home, and that meant a lot.”

She adds: “It just reinforced what I knew about SWOTY, having attended the event before as a guest and read about it over the years – it matters to people in Glasgow and across the country - it really, really does.”

Adele became the 53rd SWOTY – the affectionate nickname given to holders of the title – last February, and it marked the start of an incredible year for Glasgow Women’s Library.

“I remember the moment my name was called as a strange, almost out-of-body experience,” she laughs.

“I was just having a really good time with the lovely people on my table, in the fabulous surroundings of the City Chambers, and I’d almost forgotten that I was even in the running.

“The event is hard to describe - 300 women, all walks of life, just chatting about their lives and experiences. It’s fantastic.

“It was so amazing to be nominated, but to win – it was an experience like no other, morale-boosting and wonderful.”

Winning had a profound impact on Adele, she says, both professionally and personally.

“Like many women, I sometimes suffer from imposter syndrome – that idea that you aren’t really worthy of being in certain roles or positions but winning SWOTY really boosted my confidence and validated my experience,” she says.

“For example, I was invited to apply for a position on the board of Museums and Galleries Scotland.”

She pauses.

“I know that pre-SWOTY, I’d have thought – I can’t apply for that. It’s too big an ask,” she says, slowly. “Post-SWOTY, I thought – why not? Of course I can do that.”

Adele was born and brought up in South Yorkshire but regularly visited her Scottish relatives as a child, and moved to the city aged 17 to study at Glasgow School of Art.

Without her vision and tenacity, Glasgow Women’s Library – it is the only one dedicated to women’s history in the whole of the UK – might never have survived beyond its humble beginnings during Glasgow’s year as City of Culture in 1990.

It has grown from an unfunded, grassroots initiative with no paid workers (Adele ran the library unpaid for almost 10 years, working as a tutor at the Art School at the same time) to a busy, multifaceted organisation with 13 paid staff, sessional workers and more than 20 volunteers.

Thousands of women have visited or used the library’s resources or learning opportunities and continue to do so and recently it was given prestigious Recognised Collections of National Significance status by Museum Galleries Scotland.

When First Minister Nicola Sturgeon officially opened the new premises on Landressy Street in Bridgeton, shc called it a ‘national treasure’.

This year, Adele and the library have picked up an impressive list of accolades, including the 2016 Marsh Award for Excellence in Gallery Education, the Icon Diversity Awards Venue of the Year, The Judges Award in the Herald Property Awards and the The Glasgow Institute of Architects, Art and Leisure Category Award 2016.

“I firmly believe that SWOTY and the Evening Times had a huge part to play in our success this year,” she nods. “Here in Bridgeton, the home of the library, the Evening Times reaches people and penetrates their lives in ways that social media never will.

“People came into the library who had never been before and it was a real privilege to meet them and hear their stories.”

She adds: “I’m so proud of my SWOTY status – whenever it is mentioned at the talks I give, or events I attend, it gets such a warm round of applause.”

“All my Scottish relatives are over the moon, too and I wish my grandma and grandad could have seen it – they would have been immensely proud.”

The shortlist of this year’s candidates for the title will be announced soon, with the winner being announced at the annual dinner and presentation on February 23.

Adele has some advice for her successor.

“I have had to pinch myself this year, and I thank my lucky stars every day to have this wonderful accolade,” she smiles.

“But the year flies by – so embrace it. Don’t shy away from it, be proud of it and enjoy the experience.

“Also, it’s important to explore all the ways it can have an impact on the work you do and the cause you support.

“Use it to highlight what is important to you.”

She grins: “We have had an amazing year, meeting new people who have come through our doors as a direct result of SWOTY, winning these incredible accolades and reaching out to other women’s libraries around the world.

“We are still growing and still learning, but we are now fearless. We are fearless about applying for funding or grants or staging high profile events, or promoting what we are doing, raising our profile and fighting for women’s equality.”

She grins. “That’s what it’s about. That’s the power of SWOTY.”