GLASGOW took Adele Patrick under its wing when she arrived here as a 17-year-old student more than 30 years ago.

The fearless founder of Glasgow Women’s Library has more than returned the favour – not only because her vision has created a nationally respected museum everyone can enjoy, but also because she has given women from all over Scotland a voice.

ANN FOTHERINGHAM catches up with the Evening Times Scotswoman of the Year 2015.

WORDS rarely fail Adele Patrick, trailblazing founder of Glasgow Women’s Library.

But she admits she was “gobsmacked” to be awarded the title of Evening Times Scotswoman of the Year 2015.

“I thought my colleagues – who do like a joke – were pulling my leg when they told me I had been nominated,” she grins.

“I had been to SWOTY before so it seemed inconceivable that I should be a finalist alongside those other, amazing women. So to actually win….” she trails off, with a shake of her head.

“How I’m getting my head round it is by being delighted the library will get the recognition. Validation like this is so important to us - validation that many years ago seemed impossible."

It’s typical of Adele that she is keen to share the glory.

But the truth is that without her vision and tenacity, the museum – it is the only one dedicated to women’s history in the whole of the UK – might never have survived beyond its humble beginnings during Glasgow’s year as City of Culture in 1990.

“We knew that if we didn’t do something, the representation of Glasgow during that year, when the city was on a world stage, would be the pale, male, stale version,” says Adele.

“We felt Glasgow deserved a place where women’s histories and contributions to society would be safeguarded for future generations.

“Women had been sidelined, eclipsed – but the tide was turning. Glasgow had always been such a masculine city, a mean city - here was our chance to show it in a new light, as a place that took pride in celebrating women.”

Adele breaks off with a hearty laugh: “When I think back, we had such lofty aims - and we didn’t have a bean.

“We absolutely lived by the seat of our pants in those early days – we were so presumptuous and idealistic.

“So to see what the library has become, and what it means to so many women – well, it just astounds me, every single day.”

Adele’s colleague Sue John, who is a senior manager at the library, says: “Adele worked unpaid for 10 years to run the library, steering it through what was often a bumpy ride, fighting for funding and never giving up.

“She is an exceptional woman and the library, which has just celebrated its 25th anniversary, is what it is because of her passion, tenacity and drive.”

Adele grew up in South Yorkshire, but moved to Glasgow when she was 17 to study textiles at Glasgow School of Art.

“We had lots of relatives in Kilsyth so I’d been up and down to Scotland lots of times when I was a child,” she explains.

“I knew this was where I wanted to be – I liked the people, the places and the political landscape up here. And coming to Glasgow School of Art was a lifechanging experience.”

She smiles: “It was a shock, leaving your home at 17, coming to stay in a strange city. I lived in a girls’ hostel and I experienced love and care like I had never known.

“Love in Yorkshire is tough love – but the women at that hostel took me places, showed me the ropes, fed me – they really looked after me and I have never forgotten that.”

Adele attributes her love of the arts and her strong work ethic to her parents.

“My mum is a teacher – she is in her 70s, but still working – and my dad is a retired journalist, although he still writes bits and pieces,” she explains.

“I was very fortunate they were both interested in art and culture and music – they encouraged me to go to university, and to enjoy learning.”

At the end of last year, Glasgow Women’s Library finally settled in to its Bridgeton home after renovations on the beautiful old building on Landressy Street were completed.

The fireproof, temperature-controlled, state of the art archives are a far cry from the library’s humble beginnings, firstly in Garnethill and then in a draughty tenement off the Trongate.

“It’s such a weight off our shoulders to have this,” she agrees, wholeheartedly. “Just to know that Scottish women’s history is now safe and secure, is a relief.”

It followed an exciting few months, in which the library was given Recognised Collections of National Significance status by Museum Galleries Scotland – and life for Adele and the team continues to be busy.

“Oh, there are a million things still to do, from our brilliant spring programme to looking into opening a café,” she rhymes off, adding mysteriously: “And I’m thinking about beekeeping, but that’s another story.

“What I want to see is women really taking ownership of the place, getting even more involved.”

She smiles: “I’m really, really proud of what we have achieved. I love the fact that every single book or item on the shelves has been donated by someone, has a story behind it.

“But the best bit is when women come back to us, who got involved in a course or a class or an event 20 years ago, to say – that really changed my life.

“I want to give women, who have missed out on education for whatever reason, whether it’s dyslexia, or violence in the home, or language difficulties, another chance to love learning, to feel part of something again.”

She pauses. “Glasgow is full of so many remarkable women, who just don’t see themselves as significant at all, and yet they are," she marvels.

The same is true, of course, of Adele Patrick.