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the 2018 AWARDS.

Byline: PAUL COLE Print Editor Birmingham Mail

Standing vigil over the entrance to the University of Birmingham's Great Hall are sculpted movers and shakers. Beethoven, Virgil, Michelangelo, Plato and Shakespeare rub shoulders with Newton, Watt, Faraday and Darwin. But a smile surely broke their stony gaze last year as the magnificent Aston Webb Hall resounded with an unlikely refrain.

"Nice one Cyrille, nice one son. Nice one Cyrille, let's have another one..."

Brendon Batson led a star-studded audience in song as his late team-mate Cyrille Regis was honoured with a Pride of Birmingham Award for lifetime achievement both on and off the pitch, where he had battled racism and intolerance before his untimely death.

It was a rare posthumous honour in the annual awards' proud history, and there was not a dry eye in the house as his widow Julia and her family accepted it with quiet dignity. And that's something associated each year with Pride of Birmingham.

Our winners may have achieved extraordinary things. They may have reached remarkable heights. They may have shown inspirational compassion. But they rarely, if ever, sing their own praises. They don't blow their own trumpets.

That's why Pride of Birmingham is so important to the Birmingham Mail and our partners, TSB. It's our chance to do that for them, to recognise the incredible example they set.

This year's awards will be the sixth time we have embarked on our annual search for heroes. And heroes come in all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life.

Last year we met brave Birmingham father-of-two Harry Athwal, who risked his own life to help a young boy fatally injured in the Barcelona terror attack.

He was on holiday when a terrorist drove a van down Las Ramblas, killing 13 people and injuring 130. As others fled the scene, Harry instead ran into danger to the aid of seven-year-old Julian Cadman, and cradled the dying youngster in his arms until paramedics arrived.

Hero firefighter Lyndon Flavell also risked his life - to save a five-year-old boy dangling from a tower block window by his ears. He climbed more than 40 feet up a ladder to the fifth floor window of the youngster's Erdington home, then balanced precariously on the top rung to make the rescue.

Crime-fighting schoolgirl Robyn Birdsell chased a burglar out of her Sutton Coldfield home. Policewoman Nicki Donnelly was paralysed in a horrifying car crash but won an inspirational battle to walk again on bionic legs. James Golding defied cancer to raise more than PS3million for charity, cycling from London to Paris.

FESTIVE JOY Linda Sandhar-Haynes survived more than 18 years of domestic abuse and now delivers thousands of Christmas presents to children living in women's refuges. Meanwhile, schoolboy Tristan Price took to the streets to spread festive joy to homeless people after being moved by their plight.

Brave schoolgirl Tilly Barker drew up, and ticked off, an emotional bucket list for her terminally ill baby brother on the last day of his life. Teenager Mikey Akers has given a voice to all those who suffer from verbal dyspraxia. Anwar Khattak has helped more than 5,000 youngsters at the Birmingham Youth Sport Academy.

And Jane Sutton has carried on the remarkable work started by her late son Stephen - himself a Pride of Britain winner - to continue raising mountains of money for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Heroes all, each received rapturous applause from an audience including not just their families and friends, and the great and the good of the city, but also more than 40 celebrities from stage, screen, showbiz and sport.

Among them was David Bradley, an actor with the rare distinction of having enjoyed leading, and acclaimed, roles in Game of Thrones, Doctor Who and the Harry Potter movies. No stranger, you might think, to the truly remarkable.

"I have been privileged to help tell some extraordinary stories in my time," he said. "But this is the second year I have presented an award at Pride of Birmingham, and the stories of courage, caring, compassion and community still amaze me.

"It is humbling to meet such real-life heroes, and to see the difference they make."

CAPTION(S):

Top: The X Factor star Fleur East Below: Pride of Birmingham's tribute to Lifetime Achievement winner Cyrille Regis

Coronation Street actress Sair Khan

Emergency Services Award winner Lyndon Flavell

2017 Child of Courage winner Bradley Addison with Aston Villa star Neil Taylor

Robyn Birdsell being honoured by her idols The Vamps at the Pride of Birmingham Awards

Outstanding Contribution winner Jane Sutton with Mickey Virtue, David Bradley and Astro
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 14, 2018
Words:765
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