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Gala tribute to UK military heroes

Top names from the worlds of politics, showbusiness and sport joined senior royals to honour Britain's military heroes.

Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour leader Ed Miliband, former England footballer David Beckham and pop mogul Simon Cowell were among those attending a gala evening honouring the excellence and sacrifice of the armed forces.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall headed the list of names at A Night of Heroes: The Sun Military Awards, which took place at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London, and will be broadcast on ITV next week.

Eight awards, often known as the "Millies", were presented last night to celebrate outstanding performances and contributions in the military, abroad and at home. They include awards recognising UK armed forces' contribution in Afghanistan.

Mr Miliband said: "This is a really important occasion to mark the incredible service that members of our armed forces provide for the country. It's incredibly moving to see the amazing stories of sacrifice and courage.

"I think it represents the mood of the country. We see this with Remembrance Sunday, people want to remember our armed forces, to praise their incredible courage."

Beckham said: "I'm here because there are amazing people who sacrifice many things for the country, and they put themselves and their families through so much - it's just a special night.

"I can't imagine what they go through, they just need to know that we all think about them, and how much we appreciate what they do.

"When I visited Afghanistan, that was one of the things that they really wanted to know."

Cowell said: "I like this evening, it's nice to support it."

Asked what the armed forces needed, he said: "Give them a bit more money, show them support, things like this make a difference."

The Prince and Duchess stepped from a blue Bentley to go into the event. The Duchess was wearing a floor length navy chiffon dress by Anna Valentine.

The ceremony, in its seventh year, was hosted by Phillip Schofield and Amanda Holden.

The awards were judged by a panel including Jeremy Clarkson, Andy McNab, Lorraine Kelly and Penny Lancaster.

Clarkson said: "Read the ones that don't win, you think, how can they not win something, having done that.

"They've been doing some extraordinary things in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's an opportunity for people to say "thanks very much", and "have a few beers", which they normally do."

Lancaster said: "Everybody deserved an award."

Husband Rod Stewart called her away from talking to the media on the bitterly cold evening, complaining: "I'm freezing."

I'm A Celebrity - Get Me Out Of Here contestant Nadia Forde, back from the jungle just today, showed off her tan in a strapless red dress and said: "I'm missing them all."

Amy Childs of The Only Way is Essex fame, also braving the elements in a strapless dress, said: "It's amazing what these service guys do for their country. It will be emotional, I've got my tissues in my bag."

Others attending included actors Liam Neeson, Dame Maggie Smith and Damian Lewis, singers Katherine Jenkins and Alesha Dixon, footballer Rio Ferdinand, retired swimmer Rebecca Adlington, and celebrity chef Mary Berry.

David Dinsmore, editor of The Sun, said: "It is a great privilege to host the seventh Sun Military Awards, recognising the incredible dedication and sacrifice of Britain's armed forces. 2014 marks 100 years since the start of World War One and our withdrawal from Afghanistan. We feel it is therefore more important than ever that the contribution of our outstanding servicemen and women is fully acknowledged."

Holden said: "The Millies is my opportunity to pay respect to the real-life heroes of our armed forces who keep us all safe. It is a great honour to present such a prestigious show for ITV1 and highlight the amazing work which our servicemen and women do every single day of the year."

Schofield said: "Once a year at the Millies I get a chance to stand amongst the most incredible people that make up the British armed forces. The stories I hear are truly inspiring, heroic and defy belief in the measures they will go to against all odds. It's an evening I am incredibly proud to continue to be a part of."

A Night of Heroes: The Sun Military Awards will be shown on ITV on December 18 at 8.30pm.

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