Knox-Johnston, who turns 68 this Saturday, has been awarded Oldie Seadog of the Year 13/3/07

Never mind the Oscars, today Britain’s golden oldies walked the red carpet for The Oldie Magazines annual Oldie of the Year Awards. Sir Terry Wogan, KBE announced that Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was to be awarded Oldie Seadog Of The Year to celebrate his outstanding achievement of racing Saga Insurance single-handed, around the globe.

Sir Terry Wogan is the chairman of the judges for The Oldie of the Year Awards and was joined on the panel by guests Jon Snow, Maureen Lipman, Ned Sherrin, Gyles Brandreth and The Oldies editor Richard Ingrams.

However, Sir Robin was unable to accept the award himself as he is currently sailing north in the Atlantic Ocean competing in the Velux 5 Oceans single-handed, round-the-world yacht race on his boat Saga Insurance.

In December Sir Robin finished the 12,000-mile Leg 1 of the race in third place in Australia and is currently approximately 10,500 miles into Leg 2 with just 4,000 miles to go to Norfolk, Virginia. He is due to arrive at the end of March and will then face one last sprint across the Atlantic with the race finishing at the end of April in Bilbao, Spain. Sir Robin was also the first person to sail around the world without stopping in 1969 – the voyage took 312 days.

Sir Terry notified Sir Robin of the award a few weeks ago, and Knox-Johnston responded: “The news that I have been selected to receive an Oldie Award has reached me in the depths of the Southern Ocean. Well on it, not in it. I am overwhelmed by this recognition coming so soon after entering my “Oldie” career. Please thank your fellow judges for their intelligence and perspicacity.”

As Sir Robin is still at sea, his daughter Sara accepted the award on his behalf and read out Sir Robin’s acceptance speech:

“Ladeez and Gennelmen, I had not considered myself even starting the apprenticeship to be considered an Oldie until your message came though. Old to me is 85 years, not the springtime of my third phase. However, when I looked at the panel I realised that such a collection of talent could not possibly be wrong, so maybe I am old enough to be an Oldie after all. And if one is going to be classified as old, it is nice to have it recognised in this manner. I am sorry I cannot be with you. I am currently racing north off the Brazilian coast and won’t be home until May trying to prove, with indifferent success, that age is no bar to activity. It is with gratitude that I accept this award and regret that I am not there to be able to meet so many who are on my list of those I would like to meet. Thank you.”

The ceremony took place today at Simpsons-in-the-Strand. Guests at the event were made up from The Oldie contributors and friends of the magazine and included Ian Hislop, Sir John Mortimer, Maureen Lipman, Gloria Hunniford, Beryl Bainbridge, Peter O’Toole, Jeremy Irons, June Whitfield and Barry Cryer.

Past winners have included The Queen Mother, The Duchess of Cornwall, Spike Milligan, Tony Benn, Barbara Windsor, Peter O’Toole, Jeremy Paxman, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Sir David Attenborough. Other winners on the day were Leslie Phillips, Liz Smith, Charles Wheeler and Marjorie Wallace.

This award is made all the more poignant by the fact that it is Sir Robin’s 68th birthday this Saturday 17 March.