SWOTY: Meet our fabulous five!

CONTENDERS Introducing the women who made their mark on the lives of others last year Today we can reveal the five contenders for the Evening Times’ 49th Scotswoman Of The Year title. Our e-mail inbox and postbag were inundated with stories of inspirational Scottish women dedicated to changing the lives of others. And these have been whittled down to this shortlist of five remarkable women, all of whom will be guests of honour at the glittering event next Thursday evening. More than 250 women from all walks of life will be at Glasgow City Chambers to honour the many achievements of these remarkable five finalists. Evening Times’ editor Tony Carlin said: “All our finalists are exceptional individuals who have in their unique way made the world a better place. “Sometimes they did it by showing leadership, sometimes by inspiration, sometimes by friendship, sometimes by determination and sometimes by all of those things, plus a few more. “Each is a remarkable person and, while even producing a shortlist of five has been incredibly difficult this year, it has also been a privilege to learn more about these magnificent women.” Susan Nicol, general manager of St Enoch Centre, which is again sponsoring the award, said: “As always, the calibre of entries was extremely high and choosing a shortlist of nominees was a real challenge for the judging panel. “Each and every woman entered should be proud of their efforts – they are all a true inspiration for people throughout Scotland.”

DAME ELISH ANGIOLINI QC IN her 28-year rise to the very top of her profession, Dame Elish Angiolini has shattered the glass ceiling of female lawyers operating in Scotland’s justice system. The mother-of-two stepped down last year as Lord Advocate, having become the first woman to hold the post in 500 years and the first person in job to serve under two different governments. In her five years as the most senior law officer, and five years previously as the Solicitor General for Scotland, she was dedicated to putting victims at the heart of the justice system. She became a Dame last May for services to the administration of justice. A legal adviser to the Scottish Government, she is also chairwoman of a commission to examine how female offenders are dealt with in the criminal justice system.

CHRISTINE EMMETT THERE is a positivity that runs through the classrooms and corridors of St Elizabeth’s Primary School, Hamilton. It’s known as “the Mrs Emmett effect” thanks to the tireless enthusiasm, innovation and inspiration of one highly decorated teacher. In November, Christine beat 22,000 teachers to be named the UK’s Best Teacher at an awards ceremony in London, receiving her award from fashion maverick Dame Vivienne Westwood. The judges of the Pearson Teaching Awards praised her influence, which they said ran “like a golden thread” and said she captured children’s interest “like a pied piper”. The national award followed on from winning Scottish Teacher Of The Year a few months before. Modestly, Christine has described the accolades as “more fulfilling than Lottery win”.

JULIE McELROY WHETHER trekking across the Andes or the Himalayas, working with disabled children in Delhi slums or even walking to the summit of Ben Lomond for a third time, adventurous Julie’s persistence and ambition shows no bounds. The 26-year-old, from Jordanhill, Glasgow, is an intrepid ambassador for the outdoors – and refuses to let disability get in her way. She weighed less than 2lb when she was born and after being diagnosed with cerebral palsy her parents worried she might never walk. Yet Julie, who is also deaf, set out to prove through a series of ground-breaking challenges that there is nothing she can’t conquer. In November, she achieved her John Muir Conserver Award, the highest level of the environmental award scheme. And it is her goal to lead by example by improving access and awareness of the great outdoors for those with disabilities. So far, she has trekked across the Andes, abseiled off Murrayfield Stadium, led the first wheelchair challenge on the ascent on Ben Nevis and completed a five-day 20-mile paddle up Loch Shiel in a canoe. She has also hiked up 3118ft Helvellyn in the Lake District, England’s third-highest mountain, in below-freezing conditions, and accompanied the Lomond Mountain Rescue Team.

DR MARY HEPBURN THE consultant obstetrician at the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital, Glasgow, has worked tirelessly for more than a generation to improve the lives of disadvantaged mothers in the city and beyond. She is also senior lecturer in women’s reproductive health at Glasgow University and is known for ground-breaking work to help deprived and socially-excluded women. In 1990 she set up the Glasgow Women’s Reproductive Health Service for women with social problems and remains in charge of the unit, now known as the Glasgow Special Needs In Pregnancy Service. Dr Hepburn, who was previously a Scotswoman Of The Year finalist in 2003, is a member of several boards, including Scottish Drugs Forum and Art In Hospital.

KARYN McCLUSKEY THE crime fighter earned the nickname ‘Sparky’ from her colleagues due to her relentless pursuit of new ideas. And it was this same innovative get-up-and-go that led Prime Minister David Cameron to highlight in the Commons her methods of combating gang violence following the riots in England last summer. The former nurse and forensic psychologist is co-director of Strathclyde Police’s Violence Reduction Unit, the first unit of its kind in the UK, which she helped establish in 2005. Karyn also helped establish Medics Against Violence, an Evening Times Glasgow Community Champion Award-winning project in which emergency doctors and facial surgeons volunteer to speak at schools across Scotland.

Taken from the Evening Times’s edition on Thursday 2 February 2012.

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