SWINDON student Laurie Pycroft has been officially recognised as a great Briton.

The 16-year-old activist and founder of Pro-Test was one of seven winners at the Morgan Stanley Great Britons awards in London.

Laurie won the campaigner category for his work with the pro-animal testing group he set up last year.

He said: "I was really surprised to have won. I feel honoured.

"It was quite a shock given the talent out there but it is fantastic that myself and everybody at Pro-Test have been recognised."

Laurie has joined esteemed company. Alongside him at the Guildhall event were Sir David Attenbor-ough, who won the creative industries award, and Dame Helen Mirren, who won the arts category.

Laurie said: "It was a fantastic evening, and there were a large number of celebrities there.

"Clive Anderson was hosting the evening, and he was extremely funny."

Former US vice president Al Gore presented a special award for the environment to Sir Nicholas Stern for his economic review of the impact of climate change.

Laurie said: "Al Gore gave a speech about climate change for 20 minutes, which was fairly entertaining and quite thought-provoking too."

The overall winner was Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys who was recognised for his work in genetic fingerprinting.

His developments were used in the police investigation to track down the alleged Ipswich serial killer.

Laurie said: "I consider him to be a fantastic role model because I am very interested in genetics.

"The fact that his work was applied to policing deserves great respect."

Laurie hopes to expand the work of Pro-test this year, but he will have a job creating a bigger impact.

Laurie's first protest was in February in Oxford and attracted more than 800 supporters, easily exceeding his expectations.

The event had been timed to coincide with animal rights group Speak's rival rally at the city's Corn-market, which attracted more than 150 people.

He said: "Last year was fantastic but we are making plans already for this year.

"We want to continue making the case for animal testing because it is extremely important for the advancement of science.

"In the next few weeks we will arrange our next demonstration and we hope to get more coverage for the group."

Zara Phillips, daughter of Princess Anne, claimed the sports category award for winning individual gold and team silver at the World Equestrian Games.

Former winners of the award include fashion boss Sir Paul Smith, chef Jamie Oliver and double-gold Olympian Dame Kelly Holmes.