IT was women to the fore in the Inspiring City Awards in association with City Facilities Management that pay tribute to the people and the businesses which make Glasgow great.

Last night more than 350 luminaries gathered at the Crowne Plaza Glasgow for the seventh annual Inspiring City Awards, organised in partnership with The Herald and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce to recognise and celebrate those who go the extra mile to help ensure the city and her people thrive.

Donald Martin, Editor of The Herald and Editor-in-chief of Newsquest Scotland, said: “Tonight’s winners are all incredible people making an inspirational and positive difference to our city and our citizens.

"The Herald is delighted to provide a platform for the recognition all our nominees and winners deserve. We are also massively encouraged to see that the top awards provide further evidence of the huge impact women are having in this city as leaders, entrepreneurs and role models.”

Among those inspirational women was Celia Sinclair, the Glasgow businesswoman whose tireless work in preserving the legacy of Charles Rennie Mackintosh was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the glittering ceremony, sponsored by Glasgow Airport.

She was behind a project to painstakingly restore to their former glory the Willow Tea Rooms, originally designed in their entirety by Mackintosh.

HeraldScotland:

Winning women: Nikola Kelly, Celia Sinclair and Rhona Baillie

Ms Sinclair, who made her money in commercial property, bought the building and set up a charitable trust to own and restore it.

She embarked on an effort to raise £10m, including £3.5m from heritage lottery funds, and organised a total renovation of the tea rooms before the Mackintosh 150 celebrations in June, 2018.

Before getting her award in a packed Argyll Suite, Ms Sinclair told The Herald: “It’s exciting being here because it is recognition of all the hard work I and my team have done.”

The Mackintosh at the Willow celebrates a year of trading on Saturday and Ms Sinclair said she was delighted with how it has gone.

“Last month we had 180,000 people through the tea rooms. It is amazing,” she said.

She was also recognised for operating the building as a social enterprise, training disadvantaged young people to work in the hospitality industry.

"I really have loved Mackintosh since I was a little girl, when he wasn't recognised in Glasgow," she said.

"When I realised we were going to lose the tea rooms, I thought that it was just so beautiful and we can't lose this heritage. When it goes, it's gone.

"And Mackintosh is so modern and so much more appreciated on continental Europe than here.

"He was more than architect. He was an artist.

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"I am still amazed when I go into Mackintosh at the Willow and I wonder how someone can think of all of that and bring such diverse bits of decor and architecture together.

"In 1903, when it opened, the people of Glasgow in a smokey, smoggy city that walked into the tea rooms, must have thought they were in fairyland. Honestly."

It was a night of success too for the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice, whose chief executive, Rhona Baillie, scooped the award for Outstanding Contribution by a Business Leader for following through on her 2012 vision of a new centre fit for the 21st century palliative care that put patients and family first.

The hospice also picked up the 2019 Legacy Award after, following the completion of its £21 million, state-of-the-art Bellahouston Park centre.

Ms Baillie said: "I think this is brilliant. It is all of Glasgow's talent that is here, that's the best of Glasgow and that's absolutely fantastic. There is a great atmosphere in the room."

Alex Hamilton, from award sponsor BIG Partnership, said: “These awards are increasingly the go-to event for anybody who wants to help celebrate the people, businesses and organisations that work selflessly for the good of Glasgow.”

Liana Canavan, sales and marketing director of award sponsor CALA Homes (West), said: “It was fantastic to spend time celebrating the individuals, groups and businesses who are all committed to making Glasgow such an incredible city.”

Another woman who impressed the judges was Nikola Kelly, the managing director of specialist recruitment firm Be-IT, who was recognised for her work to promote diversity and initiatives to encourage more women into careers in science, technology, engineering and maths. It won her the Outstanding Contribution by a Young Business Leader Award.

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Jim McHarg (above), president of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce said the event celebrated "the heart of Glasgow, from people who are volunteering, people who are doing things through business and people who are helping people who are not as fortunate as themselves".

He added: "I think this event gets right to the heart and soul of Glasgow."

Raza Sadiq, founder of the Active Life Club in Govanhill took the Sports Award for the work he has done to encourage participation in sport, and to use it as tool to empower young people and promote physical and social well being in the community.

It was presented by Glasgow's Lord Provost, Eva Bolander (below) who described the event as "an incredible celebration".

"I think it is very important to let people know that there are so many incredible things that happen in Glasgow, and this is one way of highlighting some of them. And I am delighted to be part of it," she said.

"You know the slogan, 'People Make Glasgow', and it is true as always."

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The Art and Culture Award recognised the work of Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity and how it achieved both acclaim and awareness through the Oor Wullie’s BIG Bucket trail.

The trail saw one of Scotland's most famous comic book characters transformed through more than 200 specially designed statues around Scotland during the summer raising vital funds children's hospital charities.

A spokesperson for COLAB said: "Congratulations to The Glasgow Children’s Hospital. 

"They are a very well deserved winner of the Arts and Culture Award.  Their recent Oor Willie’s Big Bucket Trail campaign was so inspiring and not only captured the imagination of Glaswegians and people across Scotland but also gained exposure on a global scale, demonstrating the power that art and culture has in bringing communities together and raising awareness. 

"As a Glasgow based organisation with a passion for supporting grassroots arts projects we were delighted to be involved in this years' Inspiring Scotland Awards and help shine a light on Arts projects and organisations really making a difference in the city."

And work for people affected by mental illness saw Glasgow’s Common Wheel take the Carer (s) of the Year Award.

Dr Margaret McGuire, board nurse director of award sponsor NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “The standard of nominations was extremely high, and it is an honour to to recognise the care profession in this way.”

The Hidden Gardens Trust, meanwhile, which is behind the establishment of a leafy, peaceful garden oasis in the heart of Glasgow’s busy south side took a new gong, the Alistair Malloy Award for Inclusive Volunteering. It was established in memory of a former "colleague and friend" of sponsors Volunteer Glasgow who passed away suddenly in 2014.

The trust was recognised for the work that they do to support volunteers and to provide them with the knowledge to ensure the  secluded plot is an inspirational and accessible greenspace.

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David Maxwell, chief executive of Volunteer Glasgow, said: “It’s been fantastic to recognise some of the excellent volunteering initiatives.”

McTaggart Construction saw off tough competition to win the Industry and Young People Innovation Award for their work as an employer in Foundation Apprenticeships.

Alison McRae, senior project director at Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: “The judges felt McTaggart Construction epitomised all Developing the Young Workforce stands for.”

Altogether Travel, which the firm that supports people who may have difficulties travelling, to enjoy a holiday took the Innovation in Business Award.

Roy Gardner, corporate development and innovation vice principal with award sponsors City of Glasgow College, said: “There is a lot of remarkable work that goes on across this wonderful city and congratulations to all the winners.”

Scottish Water’s work with the £100m Shieldhall Tunnel and the improvements it made to the waste water infrastructure in the city and river quality in the River Clyde won them the Environmental Award.

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MCR Pathways, the pioneering mentoring charity captured the Education Award for the work they have done to transform education outcomes for care-experienced young people across Glasgow.

And Dell Technologies took the Best Corporate Social Responsibility Award, sponsored by the Glasgow Caledonian University and Glasgow School for Business and Society. It was applauded for its strong CSR ethos, expected from all employees of all levels with schemes to encourage team members engagement.

Lord Willie Haughey, executive chairman for City Facilities Management said: “The talent and commitment demonstrated from all the finalists has been outstanding and I hope they will continue ... to inspire others and make Glasgow a better place to live, visit and work.”

Glasgow Airport managing director Mark Johnston said: “The Inspiring City Awards continue to play a vital role in celebrating our many achievements and last night’s event was a fantastic way to recognise those who have helped further enhance Glasgow’s reputation.

“It was also a great honour to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Celia Sinclair – a truly worthy recipient who has given so much to Glasgow and has played an important role in helping to enrich the city’s cultural landscape.” 

A spokesperson for Arnold Clark said: 'What a wonderful evening. It was a joy to attend this year's Inspiring City Awards, and meet with some outstanding business leaders and innovators. We're delighted to have sponsored the 'Outstanding Contribution by a Young Business Leader' category - all of the finalists should be very proud of what they've achieved!'