For everyone to now understand what we were doing and why we were doing it means so much to all of us and I am incredibly proud of all the men and women who were on board.

Commander Phil Dennis RN

Players and the England boss praised the green beret for his drive and motivation – and the ethos fostered by the 51-year-old commando in the squad helped them when the chips were down in the tournament.

“It definitely helped and inspired us to achieve what we achieved in the summer,” said England skipper Harry Kane. “We had a fantastic time with the Royal Marines – we learned all about each other and teamwork.”

His boss presented the award to Maj Mills who said he was “completely humbled” by the occasion.

Double Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Victoria Pendleton named the crew of HMS Daring Britain’s ‘Overseas Heroes’ for running the gauntlet of the Bab El Mandeb Strait when rebels threatened shipping passing through the southern Red Sea.

The Portsmouth-based destroyer spent 50 days patrolling the region, at times well within the reach of sophisticated anti-ship missiles and surface attack. They spent 97 hours at action stations, providing safe escort to more than 800,000 tonnes of merchant shipping.

Daring’s Commanding Officer Commander Phil Dennis at the time joined some of his former ship’s company on the red carpet.

“I am absolutely delighted that HMS Daring and her ship’s company have been recognised for their exemplary actions – it was an extremely busy deployment and we operated at a relentless pace,” he said.

“The ship’s company fought the ship beautifully, doing their job, under very difficult circumstances. It was a first deployment for many of them and was one of the greatest threats we have faced since Libya in 2011 so we had to go silent for long periods without being able to explain why to our families.

“For everyone to now understand what we were doing and why we were doing it means so much to all of us and I am incredibly proud of all the men and women who were on board.”

And actor/documentary presenter Ross Kemp and Olympic middle distance runner Dame Kelly Holmes handed the individual ‘hero at home’ title to Commander Andrew Parkinson.

He broke off birthday celebrations on his boat in the Hamble to jump into the river when Linda Davies fell in and became trapped beneath another yacht.

He kept her head above water before cutting her free and emptying her lungs of water ahead of paramedics arriving to stabilise Mrs Davies.

In the 100th anniversary year of the RAF, it received a special award from the judges and the team who responded in the aftermath of the Salisbury novichok attack – the Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Task Force – were named the ‘Hero at Home’ unit.

Engineering Technician (Marine Engineering)

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