HE HELPED to launch the A Place to be Proud of Awards, and now Mark Jones has received an award of his own.

Mark, who came up with the idea for the awards scheme whilst he was editor of The Gazette, won the Basingstoke Ambassador Award.

Guests heard that as editor Mark started numerous campaigns on issues that mattered to the people of Basingstoke, including The Gazette’s Life-Blood campaign, launched in 2006, which resulted in 1,397 new donors signing up to give blood.

This year, he has taken on the role of director of fundraising and communications at the Ark Cancer Centre Charity, attempting to raise £5million to help build a new state-of-the-art cancer treatment centre in north Hampshire.

In his acceptance speech, Mark said: “It was a privilege and an honour to be editor of The Gazette for 13 years and I’m honoured to be doing another job which will hopefully make a big difference to the people of Basingstoke and Deane.

“We really do desperately need this cancer centre and it will be a place to be proud of.”

Presenting Mark’s award was Ali Foss, principal of Queen Mary’s College, in Cliddesden Road, and Paul Friend, from Face TV.

Ali said: “Mark is a worthy winner who worked tirelessly in his role as editor of the Basingstoke Gazette to promote all that is good about Basingstoke.”

Paul added: “The community should be proud of the way Mark has represented and supported the town for so many years, and we wish him well in his new role, as he once again works for the good of others in such a positive and selfless manner.”

The other finalists in the Basingstoke Ambassador category were Mohamed Farouk and Basingstoke Sports Council.

Mohamed has worked in Festival Place since 2004, providing security in the car park, and is credited with welcoming people to the town and helping those who have lost their way.

Basingstoke Sports Council is a voluntary organisation that promotes sport in the town, and organises the annual Festival of Sport, when athletes take on those from Basingstoke’s twin towns.