Our Scotswoman of the Year has some impressive shoes to fill.

The Evening Times wants to hear about the women in your community who make life better for others.

It could be your next-door neighbour or someone in your family. It could be an unsung heroine from your local charity, a business leader or even a famous face you feel deserves recognition for the work they do.

Our Scotswoman of the Year has some impressive shoes to fill.

Previous title holders include Dr Margo Whiteford, the consultant geneticist who has helped to raise hundreds of thousands for the Scottish Spina Bifida Association and Betty Brown, who put the heart and soul back into the Garnethill community by fighting for a children’s play park and a multi-cultural centre for the area, and organising regular community events.

There are many more women like Margo and Betty out there. We want to hear about them.

Here are three who could be contenders for this year’s title.

IRENE BROWN

IRENE Brown misses her son, Colin, every day. But the 71-year-old gran, from Townhead, in Glasgow, has not let his death from Huntington’s Disease be in vain.

She runs a support group, organises respite holidays for sufferers and carers, lobbies MSPs and continues to raise awareness of a little-known disease which has devastating consequences for families.

“The group helps me a lot – it helps us all cope,” she says. “Some of the people who come have the disease, some are looking after family members who have it. It’s a lifeline.”

Colin died in 2005, aged of 42, from Huntington’s, a genetic illness which causes part of the brain to die, affecting walking, speech, eating and mental health.

Irene is determined to raise awareness of the condition, which has profound implications for families – a child with a parent who has Huntington’s has a 50/50 chance of inheriting it.

“We have to learn more about this disease,” she says. “I feel strongly about raising awareness, getting people to put money into research, so we can stop families from suffering the way we have.”

JEM WRIGHT

Jem and her husband Bobby, from Dalkeith, Midlothian, lost their only son six years ago.

Corporal Mark Wright died in Helmand Province, Afghanistan as he tried to save a colleague, injured in a landmine blast.

Since his death, Jem has dedicated her time and energy to running the Mark Wright Project, a drop-in centre she set up to help soldiers suffering from the invisible wounds of war, such as post traumatic stress disorder.

It provides counselling, welfare and benefits advice, assistance in finding accommodation and support for family members.

It is mainly used by soldiers recently returned from Afghanistan or Iraq, but also by those who fought in the Gulf War, or who served in Northern Ireland many years ago.

“Mark was a caring person, and we hope that by doing this, we’re doing something he’d be proud of,” says Jem, 61.

KAY McFARLANE

The Bearsden grandmother, who lost her husband and brother to cancer, has raised thousands of pounds for research into the illness.

Kay is chairwoman of the charity Cure Cancer Scotland, which she set up following the death of her brother, Frank Sutherland, and husband, Angus.

“Both Frank, who lived in Canada, and Angus, were 70 when they died – Frank in 2005, Angus in 2006,” explains Kay, who is in her late 60s.

“But what I found hard, when I went with Angus for his treatment, was seeing all those young people, waiting for chemotherapy or radiotherapy – young mothers and fathers, with children and families all affected by this terrible disease. It’s just not right.

“So anything that is being done to stop cancer for once and for all, is something I want to support, for the sake of my children and grandchildren.”

Kay and a team of volunteers work all year to raise money for cancer charities, organising auctions, golf days, casino nights, bag-packing events and dances.

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