AN UXBRIDGE man has been chosen as a finalist at this year's Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards.
Dave Gentry, 46, of Brookside, Uxbridge, has been nominated for the Local Champion Award. Mr Gentry, a kickboxing instructor, admits the award took him completely off guard.
He said: "I got the call last week and I'm gobsmacked to be honest, it's a major event. The way I look at it, it's an honour just to be shortlisted for it."
Mr Gentry was inducted into the Kickboxing Hall of Fame in 2006 and runs the London Bulls Kickboxing Club, and it is his work in the community that has contributed to his nomination, having prevented many people from falling by the wayside.
One of these was Leanne Phillips, who Mr Gentry said got in with the wrong crowd and was pregnant at 15, but after he started coaching her kick-boxing she became a two-time British Karate champion.
Ten years ago he saved the life of three year-old Jeremy Ainsworth, who he found dangling from a wire washing line.
He raced to untangle the youngster and is now described by the child's mother Donna as her guardian angel.
"If he hadn't come round when he did, Jeremy would be dead, I don't think I would have been able to save him on my own - the wire from the washing line had wrapped so tightly round Jeremy's neck when he had tried to struggle."
Two of his more famous pupils include singer Lee Latchford-Evans from Steps, and actress Stacey Cadman, who starred in BBC children's show Cavegirl.
Ms Cadman, who is now also a kick-boxing instructor, said: "Dave has helped me loads, he took me under his wing and has been like a second dad to me, he's given me a second career.
"He is a pillar of the community and he really deserves it, he's the most loyal, nicest guy and he'd give any-body anything."
The Pride of Britain Awards will be shown on ITV at 8pm on October 1, and will be attended by hundreds of the biggest names in showbiz, sport and politics, who will honour the real-life heroes.