BRAVE bomb disposal expert Greg Hind won a coveted Queen’s Commendation for Bravery – but put his Pride of Hartlepool award “right up there with it” after being hailed the town’s Local Hero.
The courageous 27-year-old Lance Corporal said he was amazed to have been honoured by local people for simply doing what he said was his job in the troubled Helmand Province of Afghanistan.
He collected his trophy during an emotionally-charged awards evening that celebrated the pride, purpose, courage and compassion that exists in Hartlepool.
The annual Hartlepool Mail Pride of Hartlepool awards publicly recognise and honour the achievements of people from across all walks of life.
The audience heard how L/Cpl Hind ignored his own wounds to drag an injured colleague to safety, and refused to leave the frontline until he had cleared a path of bombs.
He eventually had to be given a direct order to have his wounds treated but still maintains: “I was only doing my job”.
The modest Hartlepool soldier said that while his national award from Buckingham Palace was a milestone, his Local Hero award meant as much because it was given by the people of his home town.
Greg, who was given special dispensation by Army top brass to attend the ceremony at Hartlepool College of Further Education last night, was on a shortlist that included a lifesaving team of security guards who revived a stricken pensioner five times in a shopping centre, and a teenager who saved the life of a fellow student who collapsed in a busy street.
The winner was decided on a public text and telephone vote, and it was Greg who won the hearts and minds of Hartlepool people.
After collecting his award, with 26-year-old wife Claire, he told the Mail: “I am shocked but so, so proud.
“The Queen’s Commendation was given by people who know about Army life and who are in the trade, but this was given by my own people from the town. It is so special.”
Greg had travelled up from his barracks in Waterbeach, Cambridge, yesterday for the ceremony and arrived with just hours to spare.
The unassuming soldier picked up his award to a massive ovation but played down his role from the podium in front of a near 200-strong audience.
When asked by TFM Radio presenter Wayne Allen, who compered the awards, how he felt when faced with bombs he simply answered: “I hope they don’t go bang.”
The Hartlepool United season ticket holder later admitted that he gets more nervous watching his beloved Pools.
L/Cpl Hind was one of a dozen people who collected awards at an emotionally-charged evening.
Tears flowed as awards were handed out, and spontaneous standing ovations followed many of the presentations.
Award categories cover educational, sporting, community and environmental excellence.
During the evening, special awards were given to the families of tragic Hartlepool youngster Becky Bell, dubbed Hartlepool’s Princess, and respected businessman Gus Robinson, a Man of the People.
Tears flowed as poignant and emotive picture legacies to both Becky and Gus were played out to a backdrop of selected soundtracks.
Becky’s family bravely wiped away tears to accept an award to recognise the inspirational way they coped with the beautiful schoolgirl’s battle with a brain tumour that earned her the respect of the entire town.
She lost her battle in January.
Gus Robinson’s wife Judith and son Daniel, who has taken over his late father’s role at Gus Robinson Developments, also attended the emotional awards ceremony.
Olympic hopeful Jemma Lowe, who has qualified for the London showpiece but was unable to attend the ceremony, sent her own video message as her parents Mike and Janet collected a special sporting award on the talented swimmer’s behalf.
Throughout the evening, as awards were handed out to young and old alike, the atmosphere was one of pure respect, thanks and praise for those people in Hartlepool who make it the place it is.
Mail editor Joy Yates said: “It was an exceptional and emotive evening made special by the people who were there.
“There were some amazing winners, and their awards were richly deserved.
“The families of Becky Bell and Gus Robinson showed great courage by attending the ceremony during which emotional tributes were played to their lost loved ones.
“They typified the sense of pride and purpose that filled the presentation room.It truly was a celebration of everything that is special about Hartlepool.”
• See Saturday’s Mail for more pictures and stories from the evening and a commemorative 12-page supplement will be in the Mail on Wednesday, March 28.