THERE was a lot of love for Basingstoke on Saturday as people joined hands to show their appreciation of the town.

Two groups of 150 people in each took part in the Big Hug Walk which was organised by the Basingstoke Town Chaplaincy as part of Basingstoke Festival, as a way for people to show how much they enjoy living in the town.

Mayor of Basingstoke and Deane, Councillor Roger Gardiner, launched the event at 4pm in Festival Square, where the first group started their walk.

People of all ages taking part then made their way up Wote Street, at the Top of The Town, before walking down Church Street, along the back of Marks and Spencer, into Festival Place and through the bus station back to Festival Square.

The second group of participants started their walk at Crown Heights, and went through The Malls into Festival Place, to the bus station before meeting the first group of walkers at Festival Square.

Participants held up banners displaying their love for the town.

After working up an appetite from the walk, the group made their way to Eastrop Park for a picnic.

The Reverend Bob Bowskill, Chaplain at the Basingstoke Town Chaplaincy, was pleased with the event, and said: “The feedback we got was positive, people really enjoyed it and some people were already talking about doing it again next year.

“The event was for people to show that they love the town they live in. The picnic was also a nice way to end the day and we had quite a few people on the grass having a picnic.”

Cllr Gardiner added: “It was interesting and it showed that there are a lot of people that care about Basingstoke. It is a place to be proud of and it was good to see residents feel that way too, and it was not just the people who took part but also the people who stood back and watched.”