Five facts about...Bessie Johnston

1 GLASGOW Red Cross worker Bessie Johnston has a special place in the hearts of Evening Times readers - she was the newspaper’s first Scotswoman of the Year in 1963. The unassuming charity volunteer and former social worker was thrust into the limelight when she won the very first title.

2 Educated at Glasgow High School for Girls and then Harrogate Ladies College, Bessie devoted her life to social work after leaving education. She joined the Glasgow branch of the British Red Cross in 1928 and worked tirelessly for them for more than 50 years, becoming county director. She was a great supporter of many other charities and became a leading authority on civil defence.

3 Bessie received an MBE in 1953 for her devotion to a great number of causes. She was also a member of the board of management at Glasgow Royal Mental Hospital and the Glasgow Western Hospitals Group and worked for the British Empire Cancer Campaign and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

4 Bessie lived at Kelvin Court with her husband Douglas, who was general manager of department store Wylie and Lochead’s motor department. He was also Commandant of Glasgow Special Police. The couple had two sons.

5 In those days, women were still referred to by their husband’s name – the Evening Times article announcing her triumph at the Scotswoman of the Year luncheon described her as “Mrs Douglas Johnson”. She received her trophy – a silver rose bowl – from Alexander Gibson, then musical director of the Scottish National Orchestra. On accepting, she said: “I regard this not as a personal award but as recognition of all the wonderful work done by all the women members of the organisations to which I belong.”