SWOTY: Who will get your vote in 2012?

ROLE MODELS Three inspiring women who have  proved they can overcome any physical obstacle

MAY Stone campaigns tirelessly to raise public  awareness  of a life-threatening lung disease.

The 52-year-old grandmother, from Penilee in Glasgow,  has suffered from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (PF) for the past five years,  but has had symptoms of the disease since 1998.

Pulmonary fibrosis causes the lung tissue to thicken  and become stiff, while the scarring stops oxygen from entering the bloodstream,  so May carries an oxygen tank to help her breathe.  She has set up an internet group for people with PF  to share information. It receives 800 messages a month and has 250 members.

The only cure is a lung transplant and May has joined  the Evening Times campaign to persuade the Scottish Government to switch to a  system for opting out, instead of the current opting in, for organ donation.

Medical experts do not know how people contract PF,  but it can be linked to prolonged exposure to occupational or environmental  contaminants or dust.Many workers who helped with the rescue and clean-up  operation after the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York were diagnosed  with PF after being exposed to potentially lethal substances.

But the grandmother of Thomas, two, and  five-month-old Maria knows it is essential to provide the correct information  about the disease, as internet searches often reveal only frightening statistics  about early death, something she is fighting to overcome.

Now May wants to set up a trust to raise funds as  well as awareness. Her hard work and dedication despite her debilitating illness  makes her a worthy nomineer.

Dame Evelyn Glennie describes herself as a  motivational speaker, composer, educationalist and jewellery designer, but it’ is as a percussionist that she has become world-famous. Despite being deaf since she was 12, Evelyn was the  first person to achieve a full-time career as a solo percussionist. She says: “I simply hear in a different way to most  people.”

Since graduating with an Honours degree from the  Royal Academy of Music, in London – where she was told not to pursue her dream  by careers advisers – Evelyn has performed with top orchestras and for world  leaders around the globe. She has blurred the boundaries between classical, pop  and dance, working with, among others, Bjork, Bobby McFerrin and Sting,

A double Grammy award-winner and Bafta nominee,  Aberdeen-born Evelyn, 46, remains in demand as a composer and records for film,  TV and music libraries. She has also presented Sound Bites for the BBC, plays  up to 60 instruments including the gamelan, xylophone, marimba, timpani and  bagpipes, and has 1800 instruments crammed into her Cambridgeshire home. She also keeps percussion kits in six countries to  facilitate her hectic touring schedule.

She is vice-president of Hearing Concern and Deafness  Research UK. Evelyn has also collaborated with Scottish jewellery  firm Ortak, on her ancestral home of the Orkney Isles. She has also been part of a successful lobby for more  money for music education with Sir James Galway and Julian Lloyd Webber.

ADVENTURER Julie McElroy has climbed mountains – both  literally and metaphorically – to pave the way for disabled people to access the  outdoors.

The 26-year-old from Jordanhill, in Glasgow, has  cerebral palsy and mobility problems and is profoundly deaf in both ears. But she has canoed across lochs, trekked in the  Himalayas, been out with a mountain rescue crew and done much more to show other  young disabled people that they can enjoy adventure pursuits.

She is an ambassador for Bobath Scotland, a charity  which helps children with cerebral palsy, and in March cycled from Edinburgh to  Glasgow to raise funds. Julie is currently researching for a PhD in assistive  technology (part-time) such as voice recognition, which can help disabled people, at the  University of the West of Scotland.

She believes it is time for disabled people to  overcome the preconceptions of others and to stand up and lead others to greater  independence, access and freedom and her motto is “drive, motivation,  passion”. She is driven by the desire to have the same  opportunities as everybody else, despite her disability.

In November, Julie achieved her John Muir Conserver  Award, the highest level of the environmental award scheme. She has completed four adventure challenges including  a 20-mile paddle up Loch Shiel in a canoe, hiked up Helvellyn, the third largest  mountain in the Lake District in below-freezing conditions, and gone out with  the Lomond Mountain Rescue team to prove disabled people can access the  outdoors. She set up the Wilderness Initiative for People with  Disabilities and took six disabled youngsters on an outdoor adventure weekend in  Arran in October.

Julie has been to Number 10 Downing Street to meet  the wife of the prime minister, Samantha Cameron, whose son Ivan died in 2009  after suffering from cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

Julie works tirelessly despite her disability, and is  a worthy nominee for this year’s Scotswoman of the Year award.

THEY are the women who make life that bit easier for  the people around them.

And they are potential Scotswomen of the Year. This  year the 49th ‘Swoty’ will be crowned in the City Chambers, and this is your  opportunity to nominate someone who you think deserves the accolade.

Today Sarah Swain and Matty Sutton highlight three  women who have made a difference to other people’s lives.

 

Taken from the Evening Times Newspaper dated Wednesday 11 January 2012

 

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