Maxine Peake has been honoured for her outstanding contribution to British theatre.
The actress and writer, 44, picked up the coveted accolade at the UK Theatre Awards in London.
Peake said her success was down to Sarah Frankcom, artistic director of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, with whom she has worked on productions such as A Streetcar Named Desire, The Masque Of Anarchy and Miss Julie.
The actress, a long-time advocate for regional theatre, said: “People keep saying to me, ‘you’ve given so much to regional theatre’ – I haven’t given anything, it’s given it to me.
“It’s allowed me to do the work I want to do, and that is mainly down to Sarah Frankcom and her bravery and her belief in me.”
Frankcom presented the Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre award to Peake, along with producer Conrad Lynch.
Director Richard Eyre received the Gielgud Award for Excellence in the Dramatic Arts, presented by Sir Ian McKellen at the event at London Guildhall.
Eyre said: “I’m constantly bewildered by the fact that local authorities and government can’t see what an extraordinary, unique asset theatre is.”
During the ceremony, Peake revealed that Eyre had been instrumental in giving her an early start in the industry, as part of the panel which gave her a scholarship to drama school.
Other winners included the Royal Exchange Theatre production The Almighty Sometimes, which took Best New Play, and Denise Black, who won Best Performance In A Play for The Cherry Orchard.
Best Musical Production went to The Assassination Of Katie Hopkins.