Freelance photographer Jason Howe, 41, also claimed the Photo Essay Award in a contest that saw Essex GP Dr Kannan Athreya triumph in the BT Spirit of the Olympics – a category open to non-professionals.

Overall winner Jason Howe, who specialises in covering conflicts, had been on assignment with a detachment of troops in Taliban territory in Afghanistan when the soldier was injured in an explosion.

‘His pictures continue the story of the injured soldier’s rescue while under fire from insurgents,’ said contest organisers.

‘And then, having survived his terrible wounds, the subsequent rehabilitation treatment back in Britain.’

Chair of the judging panel David Ofield, picture editor at the Evening Standard, said:

‘There were many great pictures from all sectors of the press… However, Jason’s essay was just so powerful that it clinched our decision.

‘Amateur victor Dr Athreya won plaudits for an image of his seven-year-old daughter taking in the wonder of the Olympics opening ceremony.

‘I’m happy to share one of the great experiences of my life,’ said Kannan, who lives in Shenfield.The annual awards are judged by picture editors drawn from regional, national and international publications and agencies.

Mail on Sunday photographer Mark Pain scooped the British Airways Olympics Photographer accolade, at a ceremony hosted by London Mayor Boris Johnson and BBC presenter Kate Silverton, Alan Sparrow, chairman of the Guild of Picture Editors said: ‘We introduced a number of categories this year to cater for the exceptional interest surrounding the Olympics.

‘It was a period that proved the dominance of the still image when it comes to capturing a memory that lasts long after the event.

‘The rest of the year is also chronicled most vividly by the technical skill and outstanding journalism displayed in thousands of fantastic photos…’

Boris Johnson presents Dr Kannan Athreya with his award

Kate Silverton presents the Picture Editors’ Guild awards

Warren Chrismas and Ben Moore at the Picture Editors’ Guild awards 2012