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Page last updated at 16:35 GMT, Wednesday, 17 December 2008
UK's military heroes recognised

By Greg Dawson
Newsbeat reporter

Myleene Klass, 'Faz' Farrell and Martin Johnson
Myleene Klass, Ian 'Faz' Farrell and England rugby union coach Martin Johnson

They fight in the most dangerous conditions, often risking their lives to get a job done.

Yet some people think members of the British military don't get the public recognition they deserve.

On Tuesday night the likes of Prince Charles, Jeremy Clarkson and X Factor winner Alexandra turned up to a new awards ceremony to try to put that right.

The first ever Sun Military Awards were held in London with 12 separate prizes up for grabs.

Jeremy Clarkson was one of the judges and thinks it's about time British troops got this kind of recognition

Jeremy Clarkson and Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson
You read one citation about flinging yourself on a hand grenade and the next one's leaping out of a helicopter. It's very difficult
Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson was a judge

"The trouble is the war in Iraq wasn't very popular and I think people were allowing that to cloud their judgement of what the soldiers were actually doing," he said.

"Happily, that seems to have turned around recently, so you see this kind of thing going on."

Other judges included athletics legend Kelly Holmes and England rugby union coach Martin Johnson, who admitted finding it tough to pick out individual winners.

Impossible choice

He said: "It was the most difficult job ever, an impossible job.

"When you looked at the nominations you saw the first candidate and thought, 'They've obviously won', but then you'd look at the second candidate and you realise they are just as deserving."

Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, who lost both legs and his power of speech after being caught up in a mine explosion in Afghanistan, was awarded with the prize for overcoming adversity after learning to walk again with prosthetic limbs.

England football captain John Terry presented sailor of the year to Able Seaman Lee Duffy who risked his life doing underwater bomb disposals.

Terry said: "I was so nervous to go out on that stage tonight. These guys are putting their lives on the line for this country.

Humbling experience

Nearly every celebrity who showed up, including Richard Hammond, Ross Kemp and Rachel Stevens, used the same word to describe the ceremony - humbling.

Richard Hammond and Lance Corporal Jan Fourie
L/Cpl Jan Fourie saved the life of a British comrade in Iraq
Richard Hammond from Top Gear said: "Quite often you stand at award ceremonies and go on about how people are deserving.

"Well not compared with the people here they're not. It's a staggering event."

Not everyone from the military felt comfortable with all the praise heaped on them but most were grateful they had been offered the recognition.

Major Jed Stemp picked up a prize for the Royal Marines armoured support group for their work in Afghanistan.

"People don't join the armed forces to win awards," he said.

"The guys do the job because they love doing it.

"But it is nice to know that when you go to places like Afghanistan and Iraq that people do appreciate what you're doing."

The Millies are on Sky1 on 18 December at 8pm.

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