IT WAS a golden moment as the 50th – and youngest – Evening Times Scotswoman Of The Year was crowned

Erin McNeill, 22, gasped in shock when her name was announced and promptly burst into tears.  She had survived a horrific fire and horrendous burns and now works tirelessly for the British Red Cross

In an emotional acceptance speech, Erin, from Menstrie, Clackmannanshire, paid tribute to her fellow finalists.  She said: “I am so proud to receive this award – I didn’t prepare a speech because there were so many other inspirational women shortlisted, I didn’t expect to win.

“I believe everyone has a scar in their life and no matter how big or how small, it is no less important than anyone else’s. Life puts hurdles in your way – well, bring on the hurdles, because I am ready to take on some more.”

Mr Carlin said: “Erin has taken on personal adversity on many levels and has emerged stronger.  She has helped to change perceptions by winning beauty pageants, she has raised more than £100,000 for firefighters’ charities and has worked tirelessly for the British Red Cross.  Like each of our past winners, Erin inspires everyone she meets, every day of her life.”

Guest speaker Katherine Grainger, the Glasgow-born Olympic medal-winning rower, received a special Editor’s Award in recognition of her “commitment to excellence and enduring determination”.

To mark the occasion, more than 20 former winners, including last year’s Dr Mary Hepburn, were presented with a silver commemorative pin, designed and created by Kevan Scott Goldsmiths. The evening rounded off with a performance from singer Nicola Cassels.