UNSUNG heroes in Basingstoke and Deane will once again be recognised as nominations for this year’s A Place to be Proud of Awards are now open.

The awards will be an opportunity to spread some joy across the community by celebrating those making a difference.

For the 18th year running, residents are urged to nominate individuals, organisations and projects that have made a special contribution.

The event is organised by Destination Basingstoke and run in partnership with the NHS Foundation Trust, Festival Place and Gazette Newspapers.

This year, The Gazette is sponsoring the Parent in a Million category.

Nominations are free to enter and can be made online at www.destinationbasingstoke.co.uk. The closing date for nominations is March 31, 2021.

Everyone involved will be invited to the Awards ceremony to be held virtually on April 29, which will be available for anyone to watch.

There are a range of categories, including some new ones for 2021 - all sponsored by local businesses and organisations that value the key role our community plays in our lives in Basingstoke and Deane.

· Parent in a Million Award – The Basingstoke Gazette

· Arts & Entertainment Award – Helping Hands Community Radio

· Young Role Model Award – Queen Mary’s College

· Unsung Hero Award – Waitrose and John Lewis Partnership

· Health & Wellbeing Award – Lilly

· Community Project Award – Face TV

· Business and the Community Award – Portsmouth Estates

· Fundraiser of the Year Award - Beaufort Financial

· Good Neighbour Award - Right at Home

Mark Dolby, Director at Beaufort Financial, said he was overjoyed to be supporting the awards this year, saying: “Beaufort Financial is proud to be supporting the amazing people in our local community and the Place to be Proud awards. This has been a tough year for us all and we want to celebrate the special people who have gone above and beyond for our town and local charities."

While Jonathan Hodge, chief executive of Portsmouth Estates, said: “At Portsmouth Estates, we are delighted to sponsor the Business and Community Award. During the pandemic, we have all witnessed the extraordinary efforts of members of our business community.

"We have seen and heard examples of those who, in the course of their everyday working lives, have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help change the lives of others. This award will bring to light those stories and help us to recognise our Basingstoke business heroes.”

Katie French, editor of The Gazette, said: "As the local newspaper for Basingstoke, we have been blown away by heartwarming stories of people going above and beyond for their communities over the course of the past twelve months.

"The pandemic has presented challenges for us all, in particular parents who have been forced to adapt to homeschooling and changes to the education system. As such, we are delighted to be sponsoring the Parent in a Million category this year. We encourage as many people as possible to come forward so their efforts can be recognised." 

Kevin Smith, owner and managing director from Right at Home Basingstoke, added:  “Good Neighbours are so important in making a community and supporting others in need. Right at Home is delighted to sponsor the Good Neighbour Award to recognise those who have gone above and beyond."

They aren't the only business figureheads throwing their weight behind the annual event. 

Ashley Diaz-Granados, General Manager Lilly UK & Northern Europe, said: “At Lilly we are passionate about helping people live healthier lives and supporting our local community. We’ve been part of the Basingstoke community for over 80 years and are delighted to support the Place to be Proud of awards in recognising those who go the extra mile in our community in Health and Care." 

While Tracy Kirby from John Lewis Partnership said: "John Lewis and Waitrose in Basingstoke are privileged to sponsor the award for The Unsung Hero which feels particularly poignant given the impact of Covid on our community. It is great to be able to recognise the amazing work that many of the residents and people within our community have continued to deliver throughout this difficult year." 

Christine Rowley from Helping Hands Community Radio added: “As winner's of the Arts and Entertainment Award last year, HHCR Basingstoke's Community Radio are delighted to be involved in this year's Proud of our Place Awards as a sponsor of this category. Our station was set up by volunteers to entertain and inform our local community, so we understand how important it is to continue to do this, especially now. Everyone needs something to put a smile on their faces and to look forward to so to be part of saying thank you to those, who like us have contributed to do this is a privilege.”

Nominations can be made online at www.destinationbasingstoke.co.uk . Closing date is 31st March 2021. Everyone involved will be invited to the Awards ceremony to be held virtually on the 29th April, which will be available for anyone to watch