A LOCAL hospice which provides invaluable care and support to patients and their families picked up the Health and Care Award.

St Michael’s Hospice, in Aldermaston Road, Basingstoke, has for the last two decades been offering support free of charge, raising more than £3m each year in fundraising to care for thousands of people.

Kate Harrison, voluntary services manager at the hospice, said that its success is very much down to the hard work of its hundreds of volunteers, who take on all sorts of roles to help the hospice.

She said: “If we had to pay our volunteers, it would cost us an extra £1million each year. They give us such a huge amount of support and work incredibly hard for the hospice.”

Chief executive Dave Monkman said he was delighted that the hospice had been recognised, adding: “This is a really good event, and the award means a lot to us, but I do feel that our volunteers who were also nominated in this category should have won. Mary Coleman and Peter Whewall do an incredible amount.”

Thom Thorp, senior director for corporate affairs at Lilly, which sponsored the award, said: “The hospice provides help and support at the most difficult times.

“We should all be thanking St Michael’s Hospice. They thoroughly deserve this award.”

Keith Thomson was also a finalist in the category. The grandfather, who recently retired as consultant anaesthetist at Basingstoke hospital, has hit headlines locally and nationally as a result of his incredible work volunteering on mercy ship missions to the poorest parts of the world.

He has saved and improved countless lives over the years.

Popular local charity Sebastian’s Action Trust, which runs The Bluebells, in North Waltham, was the other finalist.

The holiday home offers much-needed respite for children with serious and life-limiting illnesses and their families, and the charity also provides practical and emotional support to the families in many different forms.