VOTES can now be cast to decide the winner of a sporting award.

Three finalists have been chosen by a judging panel for the Sporting Hero award in the A Place to be Proud of Awards. The finalists represent people or organisations that have made a very special contribution to the sporting community, encouraging participation and raising the profile of sport in the Basingstoke and Deane area.

The winner of the category, which is sponsored by Basingstoke Sports Trust which runs the Basingstoke Sports Centre, in Festival Place, will be chosen by a public vote and announced at the awards ceremony at The Haymarket theatre on June 3.

The three finalists in the running for the award are Hatch Warren Runners, Basingstoke Bison ice hockey club and Len Dunce.

The Hatch Warren Runners group was established in 2013 and has gone from strength to strength, gaining an England Athletics Affiliation last year.

With 230 members, the group has brought together the community and has helped over 100 people through the “Couch to 5K” programme which supports beginners on their journey to fitness.

The Basingstoke Bison team celebrated 25 years of ice hockey with its most successful season on ice last year by winning the EPL Cup, the prestigious English Premier League Championship Play-Offs, and narrowly missing out on the league title.

The team also trains young talent and a number of the squad are under 20-years-old and regularly represent GB at under-20 and under-18 level.

The final nominee is 73-year-old Mr Dunce, who has been a Judo coach for more than 40 years.

Len, from Sherborne St John, started the Summit Judo Club in 1969 at The Hurst School, in Tadley, and became a referee in 1984.

He has also been instrumental in co-ordinating the Basingstoke Festival of Sport over the past 21 years.

Andrew Rhys, business manager at Basingstoke Sports Trust, said: “These are three exceptional finalists, picked from a list of exceptional nominees and all are so well deserving. Many congratulations to all.”

To vote for your favourite, visit destinationbasing Voting closes on May 10.