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Frank Gardner OBE

The recipient in 2011 was Frank Gardner OBE, the BBC war correspondent who accepted the award at the annual banquet at the Mansion house on the 25th May.

Frank Gardner graduated from Exeter University with a degree in Arabic & Islamic Studies. There then followed a nine year career in banking as an investment banker with Saudi International Bank and then Robert Fleming Bank from 1986 until 1995. Bored of banking, he then took the plunge into journalism, working initially for BBC World TV. Spotting a gap in coverage he moved himself and his heavily pregnant wife to Dubai in 1997 to set up as a freelance Gulf stringer covering all 6 GCC countries and Yemen.

In 1999 Gardner was appointed BBC Middle East correspondent in charge of the bureau in Cairo, but travelled throughout the region. After the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York, Gardner focused on stories related to the so-called ‘War on Terror’, a phrase he always disliked, working to steer his audiences away from many of the prejudices and stereotypings that sprang up in the wake of those attacks.

On 6 June 2004, while reporting from a suburb of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Gardner was shot six times and seriously injured in an attack by al-Qaeda sympathisers. His colleague Irish cameraman Simon Cumbers was shot dead. He was left partly paralysed in the legs and dependent on a wheelchair for life.

After 14 operations, 7 months in hospital and months of rehabilitation he returned to reporting for the BBC in mid-2005, using a wheelchair or a frame. Frank was awarded the OBE in 2005.

(We are grateful to Gerald Sharpe Photography for supplying the photograph).

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