Sir Cliff Richard returns to TV at Pride of Britain Awards

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Sir Cliff Richard will make his first major television appearance since an investigation into child sex allegations was dropped.

The veteran singer, who has launched legal action against the BBC and South Yorkshire Police for alleged collusion in the case, will step out at the Daily Mirror's Pride of Britain Awards along with the Prime Minister, the Prince of Wales and a host of famous faces.

After retreating from public life, postponing albums and a biography during the two-year probe, Sir Cliff said he was "feeling stronger already" and looking forward to the event.

Sir Cliff Richard on stage
Sir Cliff Richard (Joe Giddens/PA)

"It was a matter of being patient. I knew it wasn't true. I got through it but I will never forget it," the 76-year-old told the newspaper.

"It's an experience I wouldn't want to repeat or for anyone else to go through. They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and I'm trusting that is true."

Sir Cliff is due to present an award at the ceremony, where Theresa May will praise the "extraordinary" achievements of the country's "unsung heroes".

Theresa May
Theresa May (PA)

She will say: "Their achievements are extraordinary. But not only that, through what they have done, they have also shown the tremendous bravery, decency and compassion that exists in our communities up and down the country."

Charles, who will present his Prince's Trust young achiever award, will say he is "tremendously proud" of the winners and offer his "most heartfelt thanks for the noble contributions they have made to the lives of others".

Founded in 1999 and now in its 18th year, the glittering annual ceremony will be hosted by Carol Vorderman at central London's Grosvenor House. The awards celebrate the achievements of the country's unsung heroes.

Carol Vorderman
Carol Vorderman (Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

With award categories including special recognition, emergency services, child of courage and TSB community partner, the winners come from across the country and from all walks of life.

Professor Stephen Hawking will be presented with the lifetime achievement award by the Prime Minister to honour his work as the world's most influential scientist and his extraordinary refusal to let motor neurone disease dictate the terms he lives by.

Stephen Hawking
Professor Stephen Hawking (Andrew Parsons/PA)

And Britain's Olympic and Paralympic athletes will be bestowed with a special recognition award after they rewrote the history books at the Rio Games, sending records tumbling and surpassing all expectations.

Team GB finished second in the medal table after winning 67 medals, including 27 gold and 23 silver - two more than in London.

The Paralympians picked up the winning baton as they finished with 147 medals - 27 more than they won in London and way above the target of 121. Their haul included 64 golds.

Newlywed gold medal-winning cyclists Laura Trott and Jason Kenny will be among medallists on stage to receive the award on behalf of Team GB.

Laura Trott and Jason Kenny
Laura Trott and Jason Kenny (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Other award recipients include eight-year-old child of courage winner Tilly Sawford, who has endured more than 500 operations after falling into a bath of scalding water as a baby, suffering 86% burns.

William Edwards, 24, who risked his own life to save pensioner Anne Wade, who was trapped inside a burning car, is the winner of the outstanding bravery award.

The winners were chosen by a judging panel made up of celebrated figures in national life. Organisers received tens of thousands of nominations from the public while researchers discovered "remarkable individuals".

Lord Sugar surprised one award winner who had been told she was going to meet an art dealer, but was instead greeted by the billionaire businessman who handed her an official invite to this year's ceremony.

Lord Sugar
Lord Sugar (Philip Toscano/PA)

Rhea Kara, 11, has painted hundreds of pictures to raise £13,500 for research into Rett syndrome, a debilitating condition that mainly affects young girls. She will be honoured as the young fundraiser of the year for her work.

"I am really happy that I won the award, and I was really surprised that Lord Sugar told me I was winning the award," the aspiring fashion designer told the Press Association.

This year's star-studded guest list includes Sir Cliff, Sir Tom Jones, Dame Joan Collins, Dame Maggie Smith, Sir Chris Hoy, Simon Cowell, Nicole Scherzinger, Louis Walsh, Dermot O'Leary and the X Factor finalists.

Take That, Mary Berry, Jamie Oliver, the stars of this year's Strictly Come Dancing, Jess Glynne, Richard Hammond, Jamie Redknapp and Harry Kane will also be in attendance, along with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron.

:: The Pride of Britain Awards will be screened on ITV at 8pm on Tuesday.