President Nicolas Sarkozy Awards Dame Ellen MacArthur Legion d’Honneur
At a ceremony at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich Thursday, BT Team Ellen skipper Dame Ellen MacArthur, was awarded France's highest decoration, the Légion d'Honneur by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
This was a formal recognition of the award that was bestowed upon Ellen after she set a new solo non-stop round the world record of 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds in February 2005.
In his speech, the President highlighted the reasons why Ellen had been chosen for this prestigious award by saying that Ellen is a symbol of Franco-British friendship - adored by people from both countries and she symbolises something that unites the two countries.
Her passion for the sea - offshore racing is a passion for the French and she is so courageous especially given the fact that she was so young when she first sailed into the record books.
Not only is she a very brave person who has made people dream with her adventures on the sea, but she is also an extremely kind and generous person as evidenced by her work with the Ellen MacArthur Trust taking young people with cancer and leukaemia sailing to help them rebuild their confidence.
Ellen responded to this award saying it is a huge honour to receive this award from a country from where she had set off on some of her greatest adventures. She has spent a great deal of time in France over the past 11 years, and the support and warmth shown by its people has been truly touching.
She also mentioned she feels huge gratitude towards the incredible team she works with, as it was as much their commitment and drive as her own which has lead to where they are today.