A teenager who founded a group in support of animal testing for research condemned animal rights activists who sent letter bombs to two Oxfordshire firms and a third in Birmingham.

Laurie Pycroft, 17, who established Pro-Test a year ago, criticised extremist animal rights campaigners hours after he was recognised as a 'Great Briton' at an award ceremony in London.

Three firms that provide forensic services were targeted on Thursday with what police describe as "crude firework-type explosives" sent in A5 jiffy bags.

A woman at bioscience firm Orchid Cellmark, in Abingdon, was injured by a device, while a second sent to LGC Forensics, in Culham, was spotted as staff were on high alert after the first attack.

The third device was sent to a DNA testing firm in Birmingham. The person opening the letter was not seriously hurt.

It had the return name and address of animal rights activist Barry Horne, who died on hunger strike.

Thames Valley Police acting Deputy Chief Constable Alex Marshall said: "Such deliberate attempts to endanger lives are abhorrent and there can be no justification for such action."

Laurie said: "I think to send a bomb to someone no matter how much you disagree with what they are doing is deplorable.

"We like to think we can win the argument without resorting to such measures."

Laurie was named Campaigner of the Year at the Morgan Stanley Great Briton Awards at London's Guildhall on Thursday.

He set up Pro-Test in January last year when, after a shopping trip to Oxford, he staged a small impromptu protest against a demonstration by animal rights group Speak.

Laurie said: "It is very flattering to be recognised for what I have done, but it is important to remember that it is not just me that has achieved this. It is the result of students, scientists and doctors all helping the cause.

"I guess the reason I won the award is because it is unusual these days for a person my age to take up an issue and I suppose they wanted to recognise that."

Judges said that at a time when youngsters were apathetic about current affairs, it was "very commendable that one so young had taken on a campaigning issue."

"However, to undertake such a potentially dangerous one, which has already had such an enormous impact, shows true bravery and courage," they added.

More than 500 dignitaries attended the awards cere- mony, which recognised outstanding achievements by Britons during 2006.

Genetic fingerprinting pioneer Prof Sir Alec Jeffreys won overall Great Briton of the Year.

Other winners included actress Helen Mirren and artist David Hockney.