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Pride of Britain Awards: Hard-working, creative tolerant, understated courageous, generous.. a quiet heroism which makes our Great Britain; INTERNATIONAL AWARD The late King Hussein of Jordan and Queen Noor 1999 PRIDE OF BRITAIN AWARDS -TONY BLAIR YESTERDAY.

THEY stood side by side, a Queen and a Premier.

She was Her Majesty Queen Noor, the widow of towering Middle East statesman King Hussein of Jordan.

He was Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and leading European statesman.

Together, at The Mirror's Pride of Britain awards ceremony, they voiced their own pride in the nation and admiration for the everyday heroes and heroines who make it so great.

She spoke emotionally of her and her husband's love for a country they regarded as their "second home".

He declared his patriotism and faith in the future of the country.

Mr Blair summed up the national characteristics like this - hoping his assessment was not too arrogant: "Hard-working, tolerant, understated, creative, courageous, generous".

The Premier presented Queen Noor with a special award in honour of King Hussein's work for world peace.

She said her husband, who died of cancer earlier this year, would remain an "inspirational force" in her life.

"He believed in the power of mediation and reconciliation," she said. "Peace was worth more to him than life itself."

Queen Noor said the "British values of honour, duty and stability", combined with Hussein's Islamic faith and Arab heritage, reinforced his drive for peace.

She added: "This lovely island was much more than a second home to him and it has become so to me because of him. He treasured the memories of his years at Harrow and Sandhurst. He learned a love of flying which contributed to his gravity-defying optimism."

The King and Queen worked tirelessly for charity. And yesterday Queen Noor met up with five-year-old Emily Casey, who may owe her life to the couple.

When the little girl from Bridgend, South Wales, was two, life-or-death surgery for her heart condition was cancelled five times here.

The King came to the rescue, paying for an operation in America and flying Emily and her parents back and forth in his private jet.

Emily, wearing her best white party dress, and her mum Claire, 23, presented the Queen with a bouquet. Afterwards the youngster said: "She's lovely. A real Queen."

Dad Stuart, a 29-year-old factory worker, said: "King Hussein quite plainly saved Emily's life. We can't thank him and Queen Noor enough."

The family heard Mr Blair say British values were admired the world over and something to be proud of.

"I am a British patriot. Proud of my country and proud of the British people," he said.

"In a world too full of cynicism and pessimism, we can and should be optimistic about our future.

"It's not just that these islands have produced, and still produce, some of the world's finest scientists, authors, composers, artists, sports people and designers. It's not just our humour or the integrity, or sometimes what I call the essential basic decency of British people.

"Or that our film stars win the Oscars, our fashion designers run the biggest design houses in the world.

"Our character is a special combination of things. I hope we will not be too arrogant saying these things, but it is hard-working, tolerant, understated, creative, courageous, generous.

"The kind of generosity the men, women and children of Britain have shown in their phenomenal response to appeals for Kosovar Albanians."

The efforts of our servicemen, he added, were an example to the rest of the world. Troops trained to fight were saving the lives of refugees forced out of their homes. British peacekeepers were the envy of the world and always the first to be picked for international missions.

Mr Blair went on: "You don't have to travel outside Britain to see this quiet heroism. Every day in our classrooms, in our hospitals, on our housing estates, hard-working people are doing extraordinary things to make Britain a better place to live.

"They are the pride of Britain. They're not reaching out for fame as a result of it. They represent the best of the British spirit."

The Prime Minister picked out two types of people - the first, cynical and pessimistic, always criticising and complaining. The second pick themselves up and get things done. They are the true Brits.

Mr Blair praised the campaign by Doreen and Neville Lawrence to bring to justice the killers of their teenage son Stephen.

Revulsion at his murder and the London bomb outrages had united Britain. "Ours is a modern patriotism, not a narrow nationalism," said the Prime Minister.

"It is about how we can build a great future, not just look back to past glories. We should be proud of what this country has achieved. Immensely proud."

"So much that is good in the world bears the stamp of Britain. But for me the good times are today's times and tomorrow's times."

Mr Blair added: "The winners we honour - some famous, some not - have one thing in common.

"They have risen above the cynicism, they have resisted defeatism and pessimism and done all they can to bring people together, develop talent, inspire the nation.

"Some have shown extraordinary courage to defeat illness and injury, extraordinary flair to entertain and delight us, extraordinary dedication to improve their communities.

"They are just some of the people striving to create that future. They are working hard, day in day out, to make Britain better and better.

"I am delighted to be present at the first Mirror awards ceremony. It is a great idea and I hope it becomes a regular feature in the calendar.

"The qualities we celebrate are the qualities that guarantee our country a great future."
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Maguire, Kevin
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 21, 1999
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Next Article:Pride of Britain Awards: We Only Wanted Justice Special AwarD Doreen and Neville Lawrence.

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