THE public helped to choose the winner of the Business and the Community award for the companies, people and organisations who use their business knowledge and expertise to help the community.

This year’s winner was the Champion Group, where employees select charities to help raise money for through various ways. They are also the main sponsors of Basingstoke Rugby Football Club for the past 14 seasons.

Lucy Boazman from award sponsors Basingstoke Together said: “The Champion Group is proud to be a Basingstoke-based company, and its staff have a long track record of supporting, and engaging with, charity and community-minded groups in the town and borough where many of the employees live, work and have grown up. This award is therefore very fitting for them to win.

“Congratulations to all the finalists who have each demonstrated how their businesses are a real asset to our community.”

Members of the Champion Group participated in events like sweepstakes and dress down days to help raise money. They also have a few members of staff who are members of Ark Riders, a local group of business people raising money for the Ark Cancer Centre Charity.

Group accountant Kevin Croombs accepted the award on the night. Speaking to the Gazette, Kevin said: “It’s brilliant that we won, especially as we missed out at the INSPIRE awards.

“While it is great that we won, and the recognition is good, it isn’t the reason that we do this. We really want to support local charities. We are proud to be a local company and really make a difference locally. It is great for the charities and the communities that they are in.

“Fundraising flows from the top down at the Champion group, with everyone getting involved over the past number of years. We’ve supported a number of charities over the years, including the Ark Cancer Centre Charity this year, it’s a real mix.”

The award was given to Champion Group after they were voted for by public vote from the selection of finalists, and so they were announced before the event.

RUNNERS UP: Lamb Brooks and Maxine Hart.