Nursery heroine in Labour ad

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The Independent Online
LISA POTTS, who was awarded the George medal after protecting nursery schoolchildren from a machete-wielding maniac, is to star in the Labour Party's final European election broadcast.

The former nursery nurse, who is not a Labour member, has agreed to appear in this week's broadcast, in which she will speak about the qualities of leadership.

The party last week failed to sign up Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager and lifelong Labour supporter after his team's triumph in the European Champions' League.

"Miss Potts does appear in the PPB and endorses us," said a Labour spokesman. "She is not a member, but she is a party supporter." Miss Potts, whose contribution was filmed last Friday, will appear with other "pillars of the community" including Carl Cushnie, the self-made millionaire black businessman, and Mick Hucknall, the lead singer of Simply Red.

The broadcast's theme is "What do we think leadership is?" Miss Potts will say: "We think leadership is about determination and it's about compassion and caring for ordinary people."

It will be aimed at mobilising voters in this week's European elections, which are expected to have a turnout of barely 30 per cent.

Chris Powell, of advertising company BMP DDB Needham, helped Labour make the broadcast, which cost around pounds 30,000. Mr Powell is a brother of Jonathan, Tony Blair's Chief of Staff, and Charles, Margaret Thatcher's former foreign affairs adviser.

Labour strategists believe that Miss Potts presents a wholesome and courageous image that the public respond to. The 23-year-old is in increasing demand to help raise funds for children's charities, present awards and appear on television and radio.

Last week, Miss Potts presented a special report on primary education in Vietnam for Radio 4's Woman's Hour, following a visit to the country with Oxfam. She is also collecting first-hand accounts of heroism, including dramatic rescues at sea, for a book about people who have carried out acts of bravery with little thought of their safety.

Miss Potts received severe injuries to her arm after she shielded children from an indiscriminate machete attack by Horrett Campbell at St Luke's Primary School, Wolverhampton, in 1996. Campbell was sent to a secure mental hospital indefinitely after being convicted of attempted murder.

Last year Miss Potts was voted one of the top 10 women role models of the 20th century in a poll by Company magazine.

Labour has chosen leadership as a theme for its broadcast because private polling shows wide approval for Mr Blair's leadership skills. The party's election message is that Mr Blair is "leading Europe" while William Hague is "leaving Europe".

The Prime Minister's personal ratings are certain to be further enhanced by the imminent peace settlement in the Kosovo conflict.