THE SEARCH is on to find YOUR woman of 2018.
The Evening Times Scotswoman of the Year (SWOTY) will be crowned in March and for the first time, a second award will be presented to our Young SWOTY.
We want to hear your nominations for who you think could lift the trophies.
For the main award, we want to hear about exceptional women who made a difference in 2018.
It could be a charity champion, leading businesswoman, celebrity or your next door neighbour.
Young SWOTY will be presented to an inspirational 12 to 21-year-old, who is already contributing to Scottish society in a big way.
Our long-time event partners, St Enoch Centre, are once again proud to be backing SWOTY.
General manager Anne Ledgerwood explained: “We are delighted to be sponsoring SWOTY once more – it is one of our favourite events.
“It is inspiring to hear the stories of women from all walks of life who are making a difference. This year, we are delighted about the addition of Young SWOTY.”
She added: “So many girls and young women have great achievements to be proud of, and I have had the privilege of meeting many through SWOTY.
“These girls and young women are proof that it is possible to change things for the better, no matter what age you are.”
Here, we reveal six young Scottish women who were already changing the world before they were 21.
After decades of religious intolerance and violence in Scotland, the first person to really stand up and do something about it was a teenage girl.
Evening Times SWOTY 2015 Cara set up anti-sectarian charity Nil by Mouth in response to the brutal sectarian murder of her friend Mark Scott in 1995.
Grace, who was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease aged nine, came up with a sign for public toilets to remind people that not all disabilities are visible after her own use of disabled facilities was questioned.
Her campaign has been endorsed by the Scottish Parliament and has been adopted by a number of businesses including St. Enoch Centre.
“Grace is wonderful – a fantastic young girl who wants to change attitudes, and encourage people to ‘have a heart’ rather than judge others,” said Anne.
“She does all of this despite her own health problems. She is raising awareness of an issue she could have shied away from but instead, she is an amazing ambassador for people with invisible disabilities. She is such a positive person and we can all learn from her attitude to life.”
AMAL AZZUDIN AND THE GLASGOW GIRLS
The Glasgow Girls were a group of Drumchapel High School teenagers who highlighted the poor treatment of asylum seekers. In 2005, the group campaigned against dawn raids, raised public awareness and found support in the Scottish Parliament. Their story has now been told in a musical and a film.
“Amal, who spoke at last year’s SWOTY dinner, and her friends played a huge role in changing life for asylum seeking children in Scotland and the UK,” said Anne. “Not only did they help end the detention of children, they also helped galvanise policy makers.
“Amal is an inspiring speaker, who embodies the spirit of the city, and who continues to help and inspire people through her work with refugees and the Mental Health Foundation.”
Sammi Kinghorn had an accident when she was 14 years old, which left her paralysed from the waist down.
Since then, she has gone on to become a Scottish World Champion wheelchair racer.
Sammi became a double World Champion in London in 2017, and is also a World Record holder over the 200m, a multiple European record holder and, following her debut at Rio 2016, a Paralympian – all in the T53 classification.
She was also crowned Scottish Sportsperson of the Year in 2017.
“After her terrible accident, Sammi refused to give up or give in and as a world champion she emnodies drive and determination,” said Anne. “She is a real inspiration to young women, disabled and able-bodied.”
It now runs Social Suppers, including women-only evenings, where members of the homeless community can join in for a chat and something hot to eat, helping them to feel less lonely and isolated. They also run Sleep in the Park – the world’s largest ever sleep-out which attracted celebrity involvement.
Alice and her co-founder, Josh are working on creating villages for homeless people, following the success of a Scottish prototype which opened in Edinburgh last year.
Determined the world will never forget her incredible “other half”, Jenna Speirs has been keeping her twin brother’s memory and name alive by fulfilling his dying wish – to set up a holiday retreat where children with cancer could come to make memories.
Calum’s Cabin and Cottage were inspired by Jenna’s twin brother, who died from a brain tumour in February 2007 aged just 12.
As a result of Calum’s Cabin, hundreds of sick kids and their families have enjoyed unforgettable stays in Rothesay.
“Jenna has an incredible story,” said Anne. “Even though she was just 12 when her brother died, she has dedicated herself to fulfilling his dream, and has now raised more than £3m.”
HOW TO ENTER
FOR the first time in the event’s 56-year history, in addition to the main award, we will also be crowning a Young Scotswoman of the Year.
In a bid to secure the legacy of our wonderful event, this exciting new accolade is open to girls and young women aged between 12 and 21.
The Young Scotswoman of the Year will be an inspirational individual who has already made a fantastic contribution to Scottish society, helping others, perhaps even overcoming personal challenges along the way.
For both awards, we want to hear who has impressed you over the last 12 months.
It could be a celebrity, or your next-door neighbour; a friend who has overcome personal heartache to help others, or a life-saving pioneer. Perhaps you know an unsung hero who deserves wider recognition, or someone at the helm of a social enterprise, who is using her business acumen for good.