Presidential award for St Albans scientist Stephen Hawking

PUBLISHED: 11:37 13 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:19 06 May 2010

Professor Stephen Hawking

Professor Stephen Hawking

ST ALBANS own Professor Stephen Hawking has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States highest civilian award. In a White House ceremony today, Professor Hawking, 67, was one of 16 agents of change to receive the medal from Pres

ST ALBANS' own Professor Stephen Hawking has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian award.

In a White House ceremony today, Professor Hawking, 67, was one of 16 "agents of change" to receive the medal from President Barack Obama.

Before placing the blue-ribboned medal around the neck of the wheelchair-bound scientist, the President joked he was a "brilliant man and a mediocre student".

He added: "From his wheelchair, he has led us on a journey to the farthest and strangest reaches of the cosmos. In so doing, he has stirred our imagination and showed us the power of the human spirit."

Other recipients included tennis legend Billie Jean King, film star Sidney Poitier and South African civil rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Professor Hawking was a pupil at St Albans School in the 1950s, where he claims to have been inspired by his mathematics teacher, Dikran Tahta.

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