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The Mirror hails Phil Ashby

30th November 2007

A marine who escaped from machete-wielding rebels in Sierra Leone hailed the Mirror's Honour the Brave campaign as a "brilliant idea" yesterday.

Major Phil Ashby, 37, awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal for his heroism, said: "I know soldiers will never be the best paid people in the world. "But having a medal pinned on you is one of the greatest feelings."It gives you something to feel proud of as you lie in hospital recovering from your injuries."Soldiers deserve to be appreciated. I think your campaign is a brilliant idea."

In May 2000, Phil was trapped in a compound in Sierra Leone surrounded by 2,000 rebels while working as an unarmed UN observer . After one of the thugs threatened to skin him alive, he broke out of the camp with three brave colleagues.

The men trekked through jungle for three days before being airlifted to safety. During his escape Phil contracted a virus which paralysed him on his return to the UK. The hero, originally from Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire, spent six months in hospital and had to learn again how to walk.

The Mirror is campaigning for a medal for every serviceman and woman killed or injured in battle. Phil said: "For a soldier lying in hospital, it's hard to recover on your own. A medal for the injured starts to put a smile back on the faces of those who wouldn't otherwise be smiling. "The medal would also help psychological recovery. It's a physical recognition that they are appreciated. It shows respect and allows people to see soldiers for the heroes they are."

The Mirror's highly praised campaign is supported by leading military figures and politicians including Gordon Brown.

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