The lawyer's lawyer of 1999

I've been asked to say a few words and the few words that I wanted to say were 'thank you and good-bye' but unfortunately I don't think that would be appropriate.

There are conflicting emotions passing through my body at this particular moment in time… embarrassment and feeling flattered beyond belief. I didn't think I would ever – having been brought up in the East End of London – be receiving an award in the company of such illustrious guests. And this is an award which has been presented because of individuals within the profession who feel that what I and the Lawrences and the legal team have done, is important.

I must say that this award, as prestigious and glamorous as it is, comes, unfortunately, in circumstances in which a young man with a promising future was tragically murdered. It's an award which must go to all of those who worked with me tirelessly, unsung heroes who haven't been at the forefront in terms of the media spotlight, who have worked much harder than I could ever have done and who deserve recognition today.

I know it's a cliche, but I want to pay tribute, if you'll bear with me, to those who worked with me throughout the long hard six years.

May I mention just briefly, Karen Thatcher a solicitor in my firm who has done admirably. Stephen Kamlesh, a barrister, who couldn't be here today. Martin Sorjoo and Margo Boyde, again who unfortunately couldn't be here today.

For me, this award is an indication that people take seriously the issue of racism in this country and in the profession, and that there's a real need for change.

Finally, what I'd like to do is to say that this award would not have been achieved, and I would not be standing here today, but for the determination of a woman who has fought incredibly hard. I am humbled by her determination and perseverance, her strength. It's she and her family who have said to us that this struggle must continue.

What I want to do finally is to share this platform with Doreen Lawrence, who has suffered tremendously over the last six years.

She has said some nice things about me, I'm afraid, which I find particularly difficult and embarrassing.

She's been an inspiration to all of us. It is that, I think, which needs to be acknowledged and perhaps – I know it's going to be embarrassing for her – but Doreen, would you come up here and join me please.

This is what I call Imran getting his own back on me. I think it's a well deserved award that Imran was given tonight because I think in the six years he has been there every step of the way. It doesn't matter what time of the day or night, whatever it is when I phone him, he's never too tired, never too busy, to take a call from me. Without him I don't think we would have got to the stage we got to in the last six years. It's not only our determination. Yes, without us it probably wouldn't have got so far, but at the same we have to give credit to him. He's the one who's been there and so tonight is his night.

Doreen Lawrence