BASINGSTOKE is a fast-growing community with many new people choosing to move to our borough.

Whilst the availability of new homes is important, one of the main reasons people tell me that they choose Basingstoke as a place to live and bring up their family is the strength of community spirit and community organisations.

That community spirit and local organisations are only strong because of the dedication and time given over many years by residents themselves. Working in the community for the benefit of others is in Basingstoke’s DNA and people are drawn to that.

The challenge we face as the community grows is to ensure new residents, who may not have existing links to Basingstoke, learn about how to play their part in volunteering and contributing to ensure Basingstoke remains a great place to live.

This incredible strength of community was, again, clear to see last week at the Basingstoke and Deane Mayor Making, a fixture in our civic calendar.

This annual event is an opportunity not only to thank the retiring mayor and introduce the new mayor, but also to recognise the service of other citizens to our community.

Local resident Olya Elliot received the Mayor’s Award for her work bringing singing and dancing into older people’s care homes; and Phelim O’Hagan was recognised for his work at The Community Furniture Project which recycles furniture, also making it available to those in need.

The retiring mayor Cllr Sean Keating has, among many other things, served our community for almost 20 years as a councillor in South Ham, is a trustee of Basingstoke charities, and was a volunteer driver for NeighbourCare for 10 years.

The new mayor, Cllr Diane Taylor, along with her husband Andy Taylor, are well known to many Basingstoke residents, having helped set up the Besom charity to support people leaving refuge or homeless shelters, and she is one of the founding members of the Basingstoke Night Light winter homeless project.

Both Sean and Diane embody Basingstoke’s commitment to community and they deserve our thanks and support.

Any community is only as strong as its people, and residents old and new need to be able to play their part.

Those who were recognised at the annual Mayor Making demonstrate what each of us as individuals can do to support and improve the place in which we live. It is our responsibility to play a part.

Anyone reading this who would like to do more to make sure Basingstoke stays a great place to live can contact Basingstoke Voluntary Action’s Volunteer Centre for opportunities to get involved and make a real difference to our community. Go to

or call 01256 423850.