LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Tuesday honored Britons whose extraordinary actions helped save Jews and other Holocaust victims during World War II, calling them a source of national pride.

Brown met two surviving recipients — Nicholas Winton and Denis Avey — at a reception at his Downing Street home, and praised the role of 26 others in saving the lives of those persecuted by the Nazis.

Britain has minted a new ”Hero of the Holocaust” medal — a silver medallion — after a campaign by Jewish groups and lawmakers to win recognition for the bravery of those involved in the rescues.

The 100-year-old Winton organized the rescue of 669 mainly Jewish children by train from Prague in 1939, before the outbreak of war. Many of their parents were later killed.

Avey, 91, says he switched places with a Jewish prisoner at the Auschwitz concentration camp to gather information about the facility, and helped a fellow inmate to survive by sharing food.

”These individuals are true British heroes and a source of national pride for all of us,” Brown said. ”They were shining beacons of hope in the midst of terrible evil because they were prepared to take a stand against prejudice, hatred and intolerance.”

During a visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp last year, Brown promised to honor the group.

Among those receiving posthumous awards are a group of British prisoners of war who saved the life of 15-year-old Hannah Sara Rigler, by hiding her in a hayloft and secretly taking food to her.

Rigler, who is still alive and lives in New York, wrote an account of her rescue called ”10 British Prisoners of War Saved My Life.”