North West's Gee Walker and Hughie and Freddie honoured at Pride of Britain Awards

Diversity star and Pride of Britain co-host Ashley Banjo spoken to presenter Gamal Fahnbulleh about this year's awards.

Three unsung heroes from the North West have won Pride of Britain Awards.

The Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards, in partnership with TSB, celebrate ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

This year it is back with a star studded awards ceremony in London, following a year of virtual presentations during the Pandemic period.

The North West unsung heroes honoured at the awards. Credit: PA
  • Liverpool mum who forgave son's killers

Gee Walker, 67 from Liverpool, is this year's Pride of Britain Special Recognition Award winner, after devoting her life to promoting racial harmony and building a legacy of love over hate, after she forgave her son's two killers.

The brutal racist murder of Anthony Walker in 2005 shocked the nation. The 18-year-old was killed in an unprovoked attack in Huyton.

His mum Gee refused to let her life, and Anthony's memory, be consumed by bitterness, declaring of his killers: "I forgive them. I don't hate them. Hate is what killed my son. I am in enough pain. Why take on and carry about hate and anger as well?"

Gee Walker, Anthony's mother

Her actions in the following 16 years have been just as powerful as her words. She founded the Anthony Walker Foundation in 2006 to combat racism and offer a space for people to feel safe after suffering racial abuse.

In the last five years, the Foundation has worked with nearly 40,000 young people through educational and outreach programmes in schools.

Its victim support services have also helped nearly 10,000 people who have experienced hate crime while volunteers have engaged with thousands in a bid to build safer, stronger communities.

The ceremony's host Carol Vordermann announced that the foundation is to benefit from an extra £20,000 to enable them to continue their tireless work.

Anthony Walker

  • Best pals, Hugh and Freddie, who raised more than £200,000 for charity.

Best friends Hughie Higginson and Freddie Xavi, both 11, from Manchester, have been announced as this year’s Good Morning Britain Young Fundraiser Award winners.

They raised more than £200,000 after Hughie was diagnosed with Leukaemia and Freddie vowed to help him thank his doctors and nurses.

After his diagnosis, Hughie began three years of treatment at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.

Hughie Higginson from Lancashire was diagnosed with cancer last year. Credit: Granada Reports.

He wanted to say thank you to the medics looking after him so he signed up for the hospital charity’s fundraising walk.  

Sadly, on the day he was too ill to take part, which is when best pal Freddie stepped up.

He devised his own fundraising challenge on behalf of his pal, running 2km every day in the 50 days leading up to Christmas.

He completed the final 2km on Christmas morning, pounding the streets before opening his presents.

Hughie summoned all his strength to join his mate on the final stretch so they could cross the line together, hand-in-hand.

The football-mad pair have now raised more than £220,000. 

Freddie Xavi stepped in to help his pal by running 2km every day. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Georgia Sleigh from the hospital charity said: “Freddie and Hughie are just incredible – words just don’t do justice to how inspiring they both are.”

Hughie has been a source of positivity through his illness, even taking part in Granada Reports special Christmas sing along programme from his ward at Manchester Children's Hospital. He wanted to bring cheer to others despite what he was going through himself. 

In May 2021, the boys were honoured with a Pride of Manchester Award for their efforts

Hollywood star Sharon Stone Credit: PA

With a star-studded audience returning for the first time following the pandemic, and Carol Vorderman joined for the first time in the Awards’ 22-year history by co-host Ashley Banjo, along with a host of the biggest stars, all joining together to pay tribute to the nation's unsung heroes and their inspirational achievements.

This year’s awards wil feature celebrities and public figures including HRH Prince Charles, Ant and Dec, Anne-Marie, Pixie Lott, KSI, Harry Kane, Joanna Lumley OBE, Simon Cowell, Stephen Fry, Westlife, Holly Willoughby, Jordan Pickford, Dame Joan Collins, Sir Mo Farah and Hollywood icon Sharon Stone, all honouring the inspirational winners.

Co-host of this year's Pride of Brtiain awards Carol Vorderman Credit: PA

Host Carol Vorderman said, “My favourite part of the Awards are the winners and how happy they are that they’re being celebrated.''

Ashley Banjo wil be the first co host in the show's history. Credit: PA

Co-host Ashley Banjo added “I have so much respect and admiration for all of the winners’ and I can’t wait to meet them, see the look on their faces as they are surprised and celebrated and to experience this really special moment with them.”