Today we reveal the next two contenders for the title of Evening Times Scotswoman of the Year 2016.
Yesterday we announced that Refuweegee founder Selina Hales and Starchild creator Michaela Foster were on the shortlist and today, two more amazing women join them in the final six.
The winner will be announced at the gala dinner in Glasgow City Chambers, supported by our event partner St Enoch Centre, on February 23.
ALISON SPURWAY, GIRLGUIDING SCOTLAND
Girlguiding Scotland volunteer Alison Spurway was recognised with an OBE in The Queen’s New Year Honours 2017 for her work supporting girls and young women for more than 50 years.
The 70-year-old, who lives in the west end, first became involved in guiding when she joined?her local Brownie Unit in Dunfermline in 1953.
Since then she has continued to play an active role, moving onto Guides and Cadets (now known as The Senior Section and spent more than 40 years as a Leader with the 207th City of Glasgow Guides, which supported girls with disabilities.
As well as her role as a Guide Leader, Alison played an active role at a local, Scottish and international level. She was County Commissioner for Glasgow in 1994, at the time of the tragic West Street bus crash which claimed the lives of three young Guides and two leaders.
“It was a terrible time for those families, just desperate,” she recalls. “And yet we saw such bravery and dignity from the parents and the wonderful leaders in Drumchapel.
She has also had the chance to support guiding internationally, travelling to India, Tanzania and Cambodia to meet girls and young women there and find out about the impact guiding has had on their lives.
“I have pretty much been involved for 65 years – apart from a short break to have my own Brownies and ended up having three sons,” she laughs.
“I’m proud to be part of an organisation that offers all girls a safe space to enjoy new experiences, explore their beliefs, use their voice and be a powerful force for good.
She frowns: “One of the most frustrating things I hear is – oh, are there still Brownies?
“Of course there are, and I see the huge impact they can have, not just in Glasgow and Scotland, but for girls and young women around the world. It really is life-changing.”
Alison recalls completing some of her Queen’s Guide Service at a Glasgow psychiatric hospital.
“It was a challenge for a young girl, visiting people who were clearly in such difficult circumstances, and I remember feeling a bit anxious about it,” she recalls.
“But I remember one woman, spotting my uniform, coming up and immediately reciting the Guide’s Honour – I promise to do my duty to God and the King, in her case. It was a great feeling, that connection and I have always remembered it.”
Working with young disabled women has been a highlight of her volunteering career, Alison explains.
“To see girls coping with different challenges, such as hearing and visual impairments and cerebral palsy, becoming fantastic members of the group and strong, valued members of society, is wonderful,” she says. “I’ve had many letters from Guides and their parents, telling me how much being part of the organisation has changed their lives.
“I’m tremendously proud of Girlguiding Scotland and all that it does to support modern young women. It has been a real privilege to be part of it.”