RESIDENTS are being urged to cast their votes to decide who will win the Unsung Hero category at this year’s A Place to be Proud of Awards.

Three finalists have been chosen by judges after public nominations were received for the award, which is one of several categories at the Gazette Newspapers-supported awards.

The winner of the category, which is sponsored by Festival Place and celebrates the very special contribution people have made to their communities, will be chosen by a public vote and announced at the awards ceremony at The Haymarket theatre, in Basingstoke, on June 4.

The three finalists in the running for the award are Beryl and Michael Mullender, Mary Coleman and Brian Donegan.

Beryl and Michael were nominated by Martin Lee, the assistant district commissioner for the Basingstoke East Scouts.

The couple started Scouting in the 1950s as assistant club leaders, and over the years, the husband-and-wife team have been part of the huge success of Scouting across Basingstoke.

Since the couple started volunteering, they have had more than 16 different roles and have clocked up a total of 117 years in Scouting.

Martin Lee told The Gazette: “If I have any problems or issues, I just ring them up and they are always happy to help with their years of experience.”

Second finalist Mary Coleman has been a volunteer with St Michael’s Hospice, in Aldermaston Road, for nearly 20 years.

Kate Harrison, voluntary services manager for the hospice, who nominated Mary, said she is “someone who shows true commitment”.

She added: “Everybody at the hospice loves Mary – she is full of Irish charm, quick-witted, and has a great sense of humour.”

The final nominee is Brian Donegan, who has spent the last 31 years volunteering and has been heavily involved with the Active Life Centre, in Houndmills.

As chairman of the Basingstoke Gymnastic Club, he was involved in negotiating new premises to enable the club to have a permanent home, and has raised £150,000.

Mr Donegan has been nominated by Basingstoke Local Sports Council chairman Kevin Laing, who said: “Brian has done 31 years of almost continuous volunteering in a variety of roles, but mainly driving the back office engine whilst others did the more glorious roles.”

To vote for your favourite nominee, visit or complete the coupon in The Gazette and take it to the Festival Place information desk by May 5.