ANDOVER’S unsung heroes took centre stage on Wednesday evening as the town celebrated the 13th annual Pride of Andover awards.

Friends, family and figures in the local community packed out Andover Masonic Hall to shine a light on people in the town who make a major difference to the lives of so many.

A shortlist of 16 finalists were each recognised on the night, with awards given out in 10 categories, plus the Spirit of Andover award which was taken home by Jordan Wylie.

“I’m very rarely lost for words but this is absolutely incredible,” said Jordan upon winning his award. “What an honour to be here and celebrate such inspiring people.”

Ex-soldier Jordan was put up for the award after recently completed his 'rowing dangerously’ challenge from Djibouti to Yemen and back again.

In doing so he became the first person in the world to row solo across what is widely considered the most dangerous strait in the world.

“The Gulf of Aden is notorious for pirate attacks and for terrorism,” said Jordan.

“It’s the biggest arms trade smuggling route between Africa and the Middle East and it’s an area of water that’s infested with sharks. It’s full of arms traffickers, people traffickers, drug traffickers. It’s had more piracy attacks there in the last 10 years than any where else in the world.

“So it’s pretty dangerous.”

Jordan has now raised half a million pounds in the last three years through his 'rowing dangerously' challenge and the 'running dangerously' challenge which preceded it.

But despite the grave dangers of the projects, Jordan sees himself as a “risk manager” rather than a risk-taker. He says he left school with no qualifications but after joining the army, went back to study risk management and that experience has been vital in planning his most recent challenge.

“It don’t think it’s reckless in anyway,” he added. “It’s all well-managed and calculated.

“And I believe in showing people that you can achieve anything in life if you push the boundaries and you’re willing to train, make sacrifices.

“I don’t think it’s a cliché, I think if you work hard and you have a goal and a vision you can really go on to achieve anything you want and I think that’s so true.”

Jordan had previously scooped the Inspiring Others award earlier in the evening. The night also marked Jordan’s birthday, prompting a warm rendition of ‘happy birthday’ from those in attendance as he took to the stage to take his accolade.

n Turn to page 51 for our full coverage of award winners from Wednesday night.