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A computer expert who has transformed the use of technology in schools was the big winner at this year's Bett ICT awards.

Stephen Heppell (below) was lost for words - literally, due to illness - as he collected his prize for outstanding achievement in front of industry bigwigs and education experts. They gave him a standing ovation at the ceremony in the London Hilton on Park Lane last week.

Mr Heppell, who said he was "gobsmacked" to win, is the author of several revolutionary pieces of software, including Notschool.net, which helps children educated outside school to achieve.

He also works with Bafta to run Be Very Afraid, an annual event that brings together policymakers and others who are influential in creating technology for schools.

In addition, he is a visiting professor at Wales and Bournemouth universities and advises governments and other organisations.

His work includes collaborations with firms in China and India, and among his latest projects are setting up media for young mums, reforming the Cayman Islands' education system, and advising Kent on its Building Schools for the Future project.

"I feel so humbled to be given this award. I've never thought of myself in that way," said Mr Heppell, who paid tribute to his "right and left-hand woman" Lys Johnson, who has worked with him for 18 years.

Mr Heppell has been to all 25 Bett shows and believes 2009 will be the year of big breakthroughs.

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