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Lily Allen in tears at awards ceremony

Lily Allen broke down in tears as she received a trio of prizes at the Ivor Novello Awards today - on the cusp of her apparent retirement.

Allen's number one hit song The Fear scooped both the PRS for Music most performed work award and the prize for best song musically and lyrically.

The 25-year-old star rounded off the ceremony with a hat-trick when she and writing partner Greg Kurstin were named as the songwriters of the year.

Former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr and music impresario Sir Tim Rice were also among those honoured at the respected songwriting event, while Noel Gallagher declared his love for Paul Weller as he presented him with a lifetime achievement gong.

Wiping away tears as she picked up an award for The Fear, Allen said: "Thank you, I'm trying so hard to hold it together...

"This song is so much about feeling so lost... it has made me feel quite found all of a sudden."

But asked backstage if her Novello success would make her reconsider plans to "retire", Allen shook her head and said: "I don't know about that."

She also joked that the awards could make her writing fees go up.

Allen has talked of stepping back for a few years with no plans to record a follow-up to her second album It's Not Me, It's You.

The singer shed tears again later when she picked up the songwriter of the year prize.

She said: "There are lots of aspects of my job which have nothing to do with songwriting.

"Some of them I enjoy, some of them I don't."

But she added: "I really feel genuinely thrilled and honoured to be given this award."

Allen continued: "I should probably thank the subjects of my songs, some of them shall remain nameless and others will have to live with the consequences - but that's their fault."

After picking up her third trophy, Allen joked that if the producer of the next Sugababes album wanted to see her she would be in the pub later.

Despite her success, Allen was modest about her abilities when she arrived at the event, confessing she still regards her songs as "nursery rhymes".

The star was wearing a long primrose-coloured gown and holding her four-year-old sister Teddy Rose in her arms.

She said: "I still just kind of think my songs are like nursery rhymes - little ditties. We'll see what happens."

Guitar legend Marr received the inspiration prize for his work with The Smiths and more recently Modest Mouse and The Cribs.

He was hugged by Gallagher as he moved through the audience to pick up his gong.

Marr said of his career: "I sincerely hope that there will be a lot more twists and turns because that's what I like to do.

"I believe that rock music and pop music is an art form."

The event at London's Grosvenor House Hotel draws many of the biggest movers and shakers in the music industry to watch the writers and performers honoured.

Winners are chosen by composers and songwriters themselves.

Gallagher presented the lifetime achievement award to Weller, saying: "This is a man in rock.

"People ask us on many occasions what it's like to be men in rock, and we say: 'It's all right'.

"I haven't got anything more to say apart from I love you."

Weller, the former frontman of The Jam who who went on to form The Style Council before going solo, told the audience: "I have enjoyed the last 33 years I was writing songs."

Sir Tim received the academy fellowship award, one of the ceremony's biggest prizes, from veteran entertainer Tommy Steele.

Steele described Sir Tim as "a truly wonderful wordsmith of our times".

The author and broadcaster was for many years lyricist to Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals and has also written with Abba stars Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson.

Sir Tim told the audience that the first record he ever bought was by Steele, in 1957.

Sir Tim, who had brought the disc along with him, said: "I have a chance to get it signed."

Music producing legend Trevor Horn, who has worked with Robbie Williams and the Pet Shop Boys among many others, won the PRS for Music outstanding contribution to British music award.

After first enjoying fame as a member of Buggles, he went on to play with Yes before masterminding the chart domination of Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

More recently he has produced Williams' album Reality Killed The Video Star and reworked the football anthem Three Lions, which was re-released this week.

Horn joked: "It doesn't matter what you look like, if you sing and you play an instrument you will get laid."

Imogen Heap was rewarded for her international achievements at the event.

Scottish singer Paolo Nutini scooped the album award for Sunny Side Up, a consistent big seller over the past few months.

Nutini said: "It was an honour to be nominated in the first place."

Natasha Khan, better known as Bat For Lashes, won best contemporary song for her breathy single Daniel.

She said: "I'm so shocked, thank you.

"Who would have thought that when I was sitting in my pyjamas in my bed writing this song, I would be standing here?"

The special international award went to Neil Sedaka, who said: "It's wonderful to be an American musical ambassador travelling around the world."

© Press Association