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Berners-Lee wins 2004 'best Brit' award

Sir Tim Berners-Lee scoops up the top prize in recognition of his contributions to the Web.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee has scooped up an award for "Best Briton 2004," 14 years after laying the foundations for the Internet as we know it.

At a ceremony held in central London on Thursday night and attended by politicians and celebrities from all walks of life, Berners-Lee claimed the top prize among a list of 2004 award winners that included double gold medal-winning Olympian Dame Kelly Holmes and architect Sir Norman Foster.

Berners-Lee received the award in the science category and was given 25,000 pounds ($47,161) in prize money. He was not present at the awards ceremony, but he sent a video message of thanks.

"I have won awards for computers, but I have never won an award for being British," he said.

The award caps a spectacular 12 months for Berners-Lee; he was knighted last year and collected a lifetime achievement prize at the CNET U.K. awards.

The World Wide Web inventor was also honored with the Millennium Technology Prize from the Finnish Technology Award Foundation. In 2002, Prince Philip awarded Berners-Lee the Albert Medal of the Royal Society of Arts.

Although in recent years Berners-Lee has been based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States, he expressed pride in being British.

"I am very proud to be British. It is great fun to be British, and this award is just an amazing honor," he said.

In 2002, Berners-Lee also made it onto the BBC's short list for the greatest-ever Britons--an award eventually won by Winston Churchill.

Will Sturgeon of reported from London. Reuters contributed to this report.