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Joanna Lumley

She captured the hearts of the nation playing feisty Purdey in The New Avengers and eccentric Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous.


But it is Joanna Lumley's part in fighting for the Gurkhas' rights that has cemented her place as a national treasure.

Joanna, 63, took on the Government to change the law that banned any Gurkha who retired before 1997 from settling inthe UK. The Nepalese soldiers have been a key part of the British Army for nearly 200 years. They fought in the two world wars and conflicts such as Iraq.

Joanna, whose dad served with the Gurkhas for 30 years, joined the Gurkha Justice Campaign in 2007.

She became the figurehead, debated with ministers, rallied public support and attended High Court hearings.

In May the Government finally agreed that all Gurkhas who had served more than four years could live in Britain.

Joanna said: "This has been the most rewarding thing I have done.

"We owe them a debt of honour - a debt that will now be paid."