TWO people in Basingstoke and Deane who have made a difference to the lives of many in the community have been recognised with a special award.

At the Basingstoke and Deane Mayor Making ceremony on Thursday, outgoing mayor Councillor Seán Keating presented individual community awards to Olya Elliot and Phelim O’Hagan.

Cllr Keating praised Mrs Elliot for her work with a local troupe of female singers, young Russian dancers and other supporting acts.

She organises free visits to care homes in the borough to entertain the residents, carers and staff around 40 times each year.

Cllr Keating said: “Her efforts lift the spirits of those who welcome her and her performers. She enhances and makes a great contribution to the whole community.”

He also paid tribute to the work carried out by Mr O’Hagan, who is community store manager for the Community Furniture Project, based in Basingstoke and Newbury.

The community store recycles furniture and household goods for re-sale and helps the most vulnerable. For example, he furnished a whole house for free where a lady and her children were escaping from domestic violence.

Elsewhere, in total, more than £14,500 has been raised during the past year for the Mayor’s Charity Appeal for Basingstoke Mencap, Naomi House & Jacksplace, and Basingstoke NeighbourCare.

Cllr Keating said: “These awards recognise two local people who make a huge contribution to the community and regularly improve residents’ lives - it’s what makes our borough so great.

“It has been a privilege and a pleasure to serve as mayor of Basingstoke and Deane, I have enjoyed meeting so many local people who are doing great things.”