9th Feb 2015
SHE was the young girl who dared to stand up to the noise and the anger of sectarianism, after the brutal death of her friend on a Glasgow street.
Twenty years on, Cara Henderson’s courage and determination has been recognised and rewarded with the country’s top award for women – Evening Times Scotswoman of the Year 2014.
The 35-year-old from Mugdock gasped in astonishment when her name was read out in front of a delighted audience at the City Chambers last night.
“I am absolutely stunned to have won,” she said, in an emotional speech, as the audience of women rose to their feet. “It’s an honour just to be here.”
Cara also paid tribute to her fellow nominee Laura Nolan, who, after the suicide of her son, set up the Joshua Nolan Foundation to provide counselling for troubled young people.
She said: “As someone who has suffered from mental health problems, I know first hand the importance and value of her work.”
Cara set up Nil by Mouth after her friend Mark Scott was murdered on the way home from a football match, simply because of the team colours he was wearing.
In a touching speech, she recalled her friend’s zest for life and her motivation for setting up the charity.
She said: “I always thought Nil by Mouth was about my friend Mark’s murder, but it’s about something much more important and bigger than that. It’s actually about Mark’s life.
“Mark never saw people in terms of labels, he just liked people.
“And it is by reflecting on the person that Mark was that I have come to realise that at its heart NBM stands for something positive.
“It is described as an anti-sectarian charity, but the truth is it’s not about effecting change from the outside in, it’s about asking people to look inside themselves and by doing so changing the world from the inside out.”
She said: “The simple truth is being prejudiced limits your life. Moving beyond our own prejudices is something we all should try to do.
“The happier we feel, the more we will value ourselves and the more we value ourselves, the more we can and will value each other.
“And that’s the sort of world I want to live in.”
Evening Times editor Tony Carlin said: “Cara is an inspiration. She suffered the loss of a friend but battled for 15 years to cure a cancer in our society.
“She faced challenges, abuse and hatred with a steely determination and she founded a charity dedicated to driving out bigotry.”
He added: “Cara’s strength, tenacity and determination to create a fairer, kinder, more tolerant and inclusive Scotland is something we should all aspire to.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon paid tribute to Cara.
“Cara is a superb and very worthy winner. She is an amazing young women, who has created something remarkable following the tragic death of her friend. She is inspirational.”
More than 220 women attended the event, in the spectacular surroundings of Glasgow City Chambers, including Lord Provost Sadie Docherty, Commonwealth gold-medal winning judo stars Louise and Kimberley Renicks and 18 former SWOTYs and their representatives.
Entertainment was provided by singers Hannah Jackson, Chloe Rodgers and Emma Ochia, plus the strings section of student orchestra Glasgow Philharmonia.
Please note: This Article originally featured in the Evening Times Newspaper