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2003-Mar-04: The 2003 Pride of Britain Awards

Sir Paul flew to London from the United States to join more than 100 other celebrities at  the 2003 Pride of Britain Awards ceremony last evening.   The event was held at the London Hilton where 600 people sat at tables for 10 in a candlelit ballroom to honor 17 individuals for their endurance, humility and love.

Arriving at the ceremony, Sir Paul shared that the ceremony holds a "very special meaning" for him, because on the first Pride of Britain night he met Heather Mills:

"It's memory lane for us. This is where I first saw Heather."
During the ceremony led the audience in a rendition of Happy Birthday to You for Ben Housson, a 10-year-old left partially blind and deaf after a holiday accident.  According to The Mirror, it almost blew young Ben off the stage.

Later in the evening, Sir Paul presented the Linda McCartney award for animal welfare to Celia Hammond, an ex-model from the 60s who gave up everything to save thousands of animals.  She now runs animal clinics and a sanctuary.  Accepting the award, Ms. Hammond noted that Linda had been "very supportive" of her work.

The Prince's Trust Young Achiever Award was presented to 24-year-old Sarah Bennett.
After sleeping on the streets for three years, she resorted to drugs, suffered a nervous breakdown, then fought back to become a musician.  After singing her song Inspiration, she told the audience:  "My story shows you can turn anything around.  I never thought I would have Paul McCartney bopping away to one of my songs."

Heather Mills McCartney presented a Pride of Britain award to landmine disposal hero Bob French.  Mr. French invented a remote-controlled machine called Bigfoot that sweeps across mine fields blowing them up 100 times faster than manual mine clearance can find them. Heather told the audience,  "What Bob has done is an amazing thing, and he has worked so tirelessly at it. I heard about his work in Bosnia about a year ago, so it's a great honor for me to finally meet him. In time, his machine will save so many lives, and he thoroughly deserves all the praise we can give him".

Mr. French said he was "tickled pink" to meet his idol Sir Paul.  He told Sir Paul that he listens to his Beatles greatest hits tape while driving around Bosnia in his jeep.  He said, : "It's such a privilege to meet all these incredible people. I grew up listening to Paul McCartney sing on the radio and here I am sharing a glass of champagne with him. But I hope more than anything that all the publicity we've got for landmine victims here will persuade the world's governments to spend far more money than they do today on the problem, which most of them are responsible for causing in the first place."

During last evening festivities, Sir Paul talked to The Mirror about his forthcoming European tour saying he will be playing some of his best ever gigs:

"It is going to be out of this world. I'm going to be doing all the old hits. It won't differ much from the U.S. concerts because my motto is: 'if it ain't broke, why fix it'?"

(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)


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