Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Record breaker Sir Roger Bannister gets special award

Sir Roger Bannister and Prince William during the ceremony at Buckingham Palace Photo: Nick Ansell / PA Wires

Sir Roger Bannister who was the first man to break the four-minute mile, has received an award as a Companion of Honour at Buckingham Palace. The accolade came for his services to sport, and was bestowed by the Duke of Cambridge.

Sir Roger who brought his wife, Moyra, and his family to the ceremony at Buckingham Palace said: "Of course this is a very proud day because this is an order of honour which is only available to a small number of people."

There are only 65 people who have a 'Companion of Honour' at any one time. The members of the exclusive group are given the special award for a major contribution to the arts, science, medicine or government lasting over a long period of time. Current members include Dame Maggie Smith, Lord Coe, Professor Stephen Hawking, Sir John Major and Desmond Tutu.

Sir Roger was a medical student when he broke the record by running a mile in three minutes and 59.4 seconds at the Iffley Road track in Oxford on 6 May 1954.

"I retired from sport when I was 25 and I was by then qualifying as a doctor. I decided I was going to dedicate my life to medicine and neurology - that has been my life although everybody thinks of me as a four-minute miler."

– Sir Roger Bannister
Sir Roger Bannister and his wife Moyra after the ceremony

After retiring from athletics, Sir Roger became a neurologist, and was also the first chairman of the Sports Council, staying in the role from 1971 to 1974. He said that during the ceremony at Buckingham Palace - the Duke, Prince William, spoke to him about his medical career and was very interested in his time at the Sports Council. Later he became Master of Pembroke College, Oxford, between 1985 and 1993.

"Being chairman of the Sports Council was very important. It took time but eventually it reorganised sport and that has led to the gold medals which we have been very successful in winning at the London Olympics and also at the Rio Olympics."

– Sir Roger Bannister

Other honours also came in his lifetime, being awarded a CBE in 1955 and knighted in 1975 for his services to medicine.

The former runner has Parkinson's disease and has trouble walking now, but says he is managing. He also said that being recognised as a four-minute miler was 'not too bad' a way of people to think of him.