This morning the papers are awash with news of The Sun Military Awards. Our nation which had been dragged into a war that initially was not ours to fight are still reeling in the aftermath, so it is poignant that we reflect back and salute those brave heroes who protected the country they were sent to fight for peace in and others around them.
The Duchess of Cambridge was on hand with her RAF fighter husband, Prince William, to hand out awards and speak personally to those who had been involved and deserved to be recognised at last night’s ceremony which was held at the Imperial War Museum in London. The awards which were originally set up by Prince Charles to mark the achievements of the Armed Forces and those who support them on operations at home and abroad was led by Kate’s brother in-law Prince Harry with his emotional speech (as another serving officer in the family) paying tribute to military colleagues and those in the forces. This was a mature and heartfelt note to which catapulted him in the eyes of the press; a far cry from his fancy dress days.
Kate shone in a stunning customised Alexander McQueen dress with sweetheart neckline and fishtail train costing approximately £3,995 just off the rail, however this piece is now sold-out nationwide. Teamed with a diamond and ruby necklace which was gifted to her on her wedding day earlier this year, and matching earrings and bracelet, Kate also adorned flat satin Prada pumps for comfort and her trademark dark eyeliner; looking every inch the Princess in her classic gown, but cleverly trying not to steal the limelight from this worthy cause.
The Duchess and Prince William presented the award for Most Outstanding Soldier to Sergent Ryan McCready, 26, of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment with the Prince commenting that, “You exemplify the unique qualities that make the British soldier second to none — courage, steadfastness, sense of humour, professionalism and a deep sense of humanity. Congratulations.”
Royalty and celebrities such as Phillip Schofield and Amanda Holden (who presented the awards) David Walliams, Myleene Klass and Jimmy Carr (who all presented individual awards to soldiers) alongside stars from Coronation Street, Helen Worth, Catherine Tyldesley, Sacha Parkinson and Brooke Vincent, TOWIE’s Amy Childs and Mark Wright, DJ Sara Cox, model Jerry Hall, TV’s Ross Kemp, Ben Fogle, singer Peter Andre and rugby’s Lawrence Dallaglio were all in attendance and fought back tears to honour these truly inspirational soldiers.
Strictly Come Dancing winner Harry Judd was also on site to present an award with judge Alesha Dixon (who looked fabulous in a Philip Armstrong creation) to Para Scott Meenagh for Overcoming Adversity.
As reported in The Sun Meenagh, 22, lost both legs in January after he was blown up by a Taliban mine in Afghanistan — then watched on as his colleague and friend Private Martin Bell, 24, was killed as he tried to rescue him.
Ever since Meenagh has devoted his life to “living for two” in honour of his brave friend. He has not only learned to walk on his new legs, but has also taken up ice hockey, archery and sailing and won medals at the Endurance Games in America for waterskiing. He now intends to cycle 3,000 miles across the US.
When accepting the award Meenagh explained “There are a lot of young lads who are faced with the injuries I have and a lot of guys that have worse injuries. They all just get up and crack on with it. It’s just what we do — what we are trained to do.” With Judd adding: “It’s truly inspirational to meet you. I’m humbled.”
You can watch The Sun Military Awards/ A Night of Heroes on ITV Wednesday 21 December 2011 at 8.30pm.