The search for the 2012 Scotswoman is underway

The search has begun for the Evening Times Scotswoman of the Year 2012.  We want to hear about the women in your community who inspire, educate and entertain.  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 could be anyone and she has some impressive shoes to fill.   Previous title holders include Tracy Cosgrove, a mum from Alexandria who set up an orphanage in Thailand, Glasgow supergrans Jean Donnachie and Noreen Real who stopped Home Office dawn raids on asylum seekers in Scotstoun and last year’s winner, Dr Mary Hepburn, who has worked tirelessly for more than 20 years to help disadvantaged mothers.

There are many more women like Tracy, Jean, Noreen and Mary out there.

Roslyn Scott, of Kilwinning in Ayrshire, set up the Zak Scott Braveheart Foundation in memory of her son who died of heart problems just before his 15th birthday.  The 38-year-old was devastated when Zak died last year but she was determined to fulfill his vision of helping other young people with heart conditions.  Roslyn explains: “Zak attended Yorkhill a lot and as he got older he saw other kids and wanted to help them. He believed every child should have a gift waiting for them when they wake up after an operation, like he always did. We thought the perfect thing was to start something in his name.”  Battling through her own grief, Roslyn set up the foundation with her mother, Sarah Rodgers, sister-in-law Sharon Lamb and friend Lilian Mair to work alongside Yorkhill Hospital for Sick Children. Already around 50 children have received gifts and Ros plans to extend the scheme to other children throughout the hospital. She devotes all of her time to the Foundation and has raised around £30,000 since it began in September last year.

Erin, of Menstrie in Clackmannanshire, suffered horrific burns in a house fire three years ago, and had to learn how to walk and eat again.  Since the blaze, she has dedicated her life to helping educate people about the dangers of fire and raising money to support firefighters and recently won the top prize in the British Red Cross’s Humanitarian Citizen Awards.  The 22-year-old has also won a string of beauty titles, including Miss Scotland International.  She explains: “I show people what fire can do to you, the damage it can cause. I visit community groups, young offenders institutions and prisons with the Fire and Rescue Service.  It’s difficult sometimes, but I always feel much better afterwards, like I’ve achieved something. It shocks people to see my scars but that only helps drive home the message. I want people to look at my injuries and ask me questions – I’d rather they did that than just stare at me.”  She added: “I suppose I’m trying to do something positive after such a negative event in my life – and help the firefighters who saved my life.”

The 17-year-old from Rothesay was determined to make her brother’s dying wish come true.  Calum Speirs died of a brain tumour in 2007, when he was just 12 years old.  He wanted his family to create a place where terminally ill children and their parents and siblings could enjoy a holiday together, making memories and having a break from the stresses of everyday life.  Jenna devoted all her time and energy into making it happen and, with the help of friends and family, raised more than £750,000 to build Calum’s Cabin and Cottage, two holiday homes on the isle of Bute. The dedicated teenager was awarded earlier this year with a Radio One Teen Hero award, and she was one of 8000 people chosen to carry the Olympic torch in the run-up to the Games.