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Thursday, 19 September, 2002, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Princess presents prison medals
Wounded ex-officer Mabel Hampton receives her medal
Wounded ex-officer Mabel Hampton receives her medal
Princess Anne has presented a medal to the head of the Northern Ireland Prison Service to recognise the bravery of staff during the Troubles.

The presentation on Thursday was the main reason for the Princess Royal's two-day visit to the province.

She also presented the medal to families of prison officers who have been murdered over the past 30 years and some who had been injured in terrorist attacks.

A total of 29 prison staff were murdered and many others injured and intimidated during the Troubles.

The new Prison Service medal
The new Prison Service medal

Staff with five or more years service between 1971 and 2002 were eligible to apply for the medal, which was officially unveiled in February.

At that time, the Northern Ireland Office said the medal recognised "those who have rendered professional, committed and brave service as members of, and by others in support of, the Northern Ireland Prison Service".

The Northern Ireland Secretary, John Reid, said the staff were being "recognised for the invaluable work they have carried out on behalf of the community over the last 30 years, often at great personal cost".

The medal was granted approval in principle by the Queen in August 2000.

Princess Anne's visit to the province began on Wednesday morning.

She unveiled a memorial to Second World War veterans and met members of a sailing project for disabled people.

Style

She then attended a presentation ceremony at which the charity, Save the Children, presented awards to schools and individuals who had helped raise funds.

Princess Anne also visited patients at a care home in east Belfast and later went to Musgrave Park Hospital where she visited the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Unit and Regional Disablement Services (RDS) Unit.

She met members of the hospital's senior management team inside the X-ray department, before observing a patient undergoing an MRI scan.

The Princess also visited the Ulster Museum where the highlight was a fashion show depicting style through the ages.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Maggie Swarbrick:
"It was a moving ceremony intended as a tribute to the 29 prison officers killed since 1976"
Finlay Spratt of the Prison Officers' Association:
"It's been a long time coming"
BBC NI's Tom Coulter:
"Mabel was critically injured, shot in the chest and to this day carrying shrapnel in her chest, back and head"
See also:

15 May 02 | N Ireland
13 May 02 | N Ireland
10 Jan 01 | Education
26 Feb 02 | N Ireland
29 Aug 00 | N Ireland
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