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11 October 2005
THE PRIDE OF BRITAIN AWARDS: MY 7/7 HEROES
Victim Davinia hails bomb rescuers
By Justine Smith

BOMB victim Davinia Turrell last night hailed the heroic 7/7 emergency services as a symbol of all that was best in Britain.

Making her first public appearance since she was last seen with a surgical mask pressed against her burns Davinia, 24, stood alongside Tony Blair at the Mirror's Pride of Britain awards event.

In one of the most emotional moments of a heart-tugging night honouring the nation's everyday heroes she presented the emergency services, hospital staff and transport workers with a special Beyond the Call of Duty award.

Davinia said: "I'd like to express my eternal gratitude to all those who acted so quickly and bravely. All were fantastic.

"I'm honoured to present this well deserved award to the emergency services not only for their response on the 7th July but also for their everyday heroism."

Brave Davinia was rewarded with a three-minute standing ovation.

She was cruelly burned at Edgware Road Tube on a day of terror attacks which killed 52 innocents, and was pictured being shepherded barefoot to safety in the arms of former firefighter Paul Dadge.

In her calmness and courage, Britain knew it would overcome. Last night only the palest of scars showed on her skin.

Mr Blair told the ceremony in London: "When I heard the news I was at a summit for world leaders. They were awestruck by how the emergency services coped and the people of London and this country responded. I was so proud."

In a year blighted by conflict, terrorism and violence on our streets all our 17 Pride of Britain winners are everyday people who restore faith in our common humanity.

They were honoured at the ceremony - held in association with British Gas and to be screened on ITV1 tonight - supported by world leaders, royalty and celebrities.

Guests included Mr Blair and wife Cherie, Victoria Beckham, and Bob Geldof. Among other famous faces were Jamie Oliver, the Duchess of York, Hollywood actress Anjelica Houston, double Olympic medallist Dame Kelly Holmes, Charlotte Church and Sir Cliff Richard. Prince Charles, former US president Bill Clinton and Bono sent video messages.

Dr Who star Christopher Eccleston told how 12-year-old Cameron Weir saved the lives of his brother and disabled sister after their car plunged into a canal.

Hostess Carol Vorderman later called on some of the audience's female vocalists - including Rachel Stevens, Myleene Klass, Girls Aloud and Javine - to sing Happy Birthday to Cameron's brother and sister, Mac and Rosie. Turning to Anjelica Houston, she asked: "Do you know anybody who could lead this lot off?" Anjelica asked: "Is Sir Cliff in the house?" Standing to applause, Cliff pulled out a mike and led on.

Eight-year-old Shae Thomas, cruelly burned by a petrol bomb, brought tears to the eye as she bounded on stage to receive her Child of Courage Award.

A special award went to mum of three Jane Tomlinson, 41, who defied warnings she had months to live following breast cancer diagnosis and went on to raise more than £1million by entering marathons.

Another award went to the McCartney sisters from Belfast who stood up to the IRA after their brother was murdered.

Ashleigh Huxley, nine, had no idea she was getting a Child of Courage award for saving her brother from a house fire until Ant and Dec turned up at her Salisbury school to fly her to the event.

The biggest laugh came as footage was played of firefighter Tony Baker watching a "fire safety" video - only to see Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas on screen to tell him he had won an award.

Catherine said: "Wales salutes you." Tony was equally stunned when Charlotte Church presented him with his award.

The A-list guests at the event were humbled by the stories they heard. Ozzy Osbourne said: "Whenever I have a bad day I just think of these people."

Hell's Kitchen chef Gordon Ramsay said: "It's a humbling experience. These people have been through extraordinary events. They're an inspiration." Model Nell McAndrew, who recently had a miscarriage, added: "Things like this make you realise there are people far worse off."

Victoria Beckham said: "These people are amazing. It's so emotional I was thinking about wearing waterproof mascara."

We all hope that if the moment comes, we can cast our fears aside, find an inner strength we never knew we had and face adversity with defiance.

Last night the Mirror honoured those who rose to the challenge and beyond. The nation is proud of every one.

j.smith@mirror.co.uk

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