BASINGSTOKE and Deane came together this evening to celebrate all the reasons why the borough is a place to be proud of.

The Place To Be Proud Of Awards 2020 were held virtually for the first time in their 17-year history, with celebrations taking place from the living rooms of the nominees and winners instead of the Haymarket theatre.

In all, nine awards were given out to people and organisations that have made a difference to the town over the year.

And in the most strangest of times, a further eight winners were recognised for their outstanding contribution to Basingstoke's Covid-19 response.

Speaking at the start of the ceremony, mayor of Basingstoke and Deane, Cllr Diane Taylor, said: "I would love us all to be up on the stage of the Haymarket but sadly not this year. Well done to all the nominees for all the awards and well done to all the winners in the various categories."

Among the winners was Nicky Blunden, of Westside Community Centre. Nicky was recognised in the Above and Beyond category for her work during the coronavirus pandemic, supporting the community of South Ham.

Felicity Edwards, one of the hosts of the evening, said: "Nicky is a classic example of what above and beyond means, she has a job but she does way more than the job description and her response to the Covid crisis is just one example of her 'can do' attitude."

Nicky declared that she was accepting the award for the whole of the Westside team, saying: "I have got to say it is not just me, there is a community looking after South Ham and the Berg Estate who have been absolutely amazing and working very hard, so I can't take all the credit."

Elsewhere, Festival Place were victorious in the Gazette-sponsored Green Champion of the Year Award, whilst Helping Hands Community Radio won the Arts and Entertainment Award, sponsored by Basingstoke Leisure Park.

The Young Role Model of the year, sponsored by QMC, went to Cameron Deakin, a "dedicated student and someone that constantly gives his time, talents and positivity to others through his fundraising, mentoring and volunteering activities".

The Red Box Project, which have fought to have free period pads provided to all schools in Basingstoke, won the Community Project award, sponsored by Face TV, whilst Basingstoke-based charity Heartburn Cancer UK took home the Health and Care Award, sponsored by BMI Hampshire Clinic.

Charity of the Year, sponsored by Sovereign Housing, was given to Basingstoke's Citizen Advice Bureau, whilst the Festival Place-sponsored Unsung Hero award went to Claire Sutton of the Community Furniture Project.

The Business and Community Award, sponsored by Basingstoke Together, was given to the Apollo Hotel.

Full list of winners:

  • Arts & Entertainment Award: Helping Hands Community Radio. Runners-up: All in the Mind Festival and BATS Next Gen.
  • Young Role Model Award: Cameron Deakin. Runners-up: Joshua Dempsey and Lucy Colegate.
  • Unsung Hero Award: Claire Sutton, Community Furniture Project. Runners-up: Richard Curtis of The Portsmouth Arms and Laura Lodge.
  • Health & Care Award: Heartburn Cancer UK. Runners-up: The Safe and Basingstoke Sports Trust.
  • Community Project Award: The Red Box. Runners-up: The Dragonfly Project and Basingstoke Foodbank.
  • Business and the Community Award: The Apollo Hotel. Runners-up: Basingstoke Sports Trust, Hair Lab and Phillips Solicitors.
  • Above and Beyond Award: Nicky Blunden of Westside Community Centre. Runners-up: Islam Jalaita of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council; and Mark Jones of Ark Cancer Centre charity.
  • Green Champion of the Year Award: Festival Place. Runners-up: Pop Up Play Village and Greenhouse Graphics.
  • Charity of the Year Award: Basingstoke CAB. Runners-up: From Leia With Love and The Aldworth School Charity Committee.