Thursday, May 21, 2009

A true hero

With politicians in such low esteem, it was a humbling experience last night to attend the annual awards at the University of London Union (ULU). I was Vice-President there in 2001-02, and founded a set of awards for the union's societies. These have now been incorporated into the main union awards ceremony, and it's always a pleasure to be invited back each year to present my award and see the other winners. The number of young people giving up their time to devote to student activities and achieving impressive results is truly inspiring.

This year, however, there was a very special guest on my table- Major Phil Packer, who has made headlines around the world recently for completing the London marathon on crutches to raise money for the Help for Heroes charity. After he was seriously injured in a rocket attack in Basra last year his doctors told him he would never walk again, but he has proved them wrong in spectacular style. For such an impressive man, he is astonishingly modest, saying that what he has done is nothing special. The audience begged to differ, giving him a raputous ovation as he was presented with the prestigious William Ross Murray award, whose previous recipients have included Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The running order meant the part of the ceremony I was hosting began just after Major Packer's award - talk about a hard act to follow! It was an honour to meet him, and you can read about his ongoing charity work on his website.

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