INSPIRATIONAL people who have made a difference in Basingstoke and Deane were honoured at the A Place To Be Proud Of Awards 2015.

Groups and individuals were recognised and rewarded at the 12th annual awards, which took place last Wednesday (03/06) at The Haymarket.

Among the winners was Mike Wilson, the Judges' Special Award for his fundraising efforts following the death of his five-year-old son Jayden last Christmas.

Before the glitzy ceremony got underway, guests, including nominees, sponsors and supporters mingled and posed for photos in the theatre's bar area.

They were then invited into the theatre, and were treated to three lively performances from members of the Lynden School of Dance.

BBC Radio Berkshire presenter and the evening's compere Anne Diamond then took to the stage, and talked on the theme of grabbing opportunities in life.

She talked about her career in journalism, her appearances on TV shows like Celebrity Big Brother, and her cot death campaign following the death of her four-month-old son Sebastian in 1991.

She added: "I know, having done this evening two times before, the wonderful ways so many people here have turned opportunities into achievements, not just personal but for the whole of Basingstoke and Deane.

"That is why, for another year, I'm really happy to be here."

After short break filled with music from students from Queen Mary's College, Anne got the award-giving underway.

This year's ceremony included two new lifetime achievement awards, as well as Arts and Entertainment, Young Achiever, Health and Care, Basingstoke Ambassador, Community Project, Sports Hero and Unsung Hero.

Councillor Jane Frankum, who represented Basingstoke and Deane as the borough's deputy mayor, told The Gazette that it was an "amazing" evening.

"I do not think people quite realise how many groups, charities and volunteers we have, and it takes an evening like this to give a snapshot of what is going on in the borough."

Emotions ran high at the 12th annual awards, which were held once again at The Haymarket theatre.

For spotlights on each of the winners, see the Basingstoke Gazette on Thursday.