Carey Taylor finds out more about the inspirational and talented people that show just what Basingstoke has to offer...
There is no doubt that Basingstoke’s reputation is growing; it is a bustling business hub, has excellent shopping and leisure facilities and a vibrant, emerging arts scene. As we have reported in the past, it’s no secret that the town has not always faired well and has often been on the receiving end of bad press, cultivating negative perceptions of the area. It’s no surprise then that the council, businesses and a number of other organisations have been working hard to dispel those views and promote Basingstoke as a place that is buzzing with talent and innovation.
At the heart of this work is a non-profit organisation called Destination Basingstoke, who work with a number of partners to promote the town as diverse, vibrant and ambitious, with the aim of raising the town’s profile on a national scale. An important part of this work is recognising and rewarding those people who are the very embodiment of the positive image being created for the town. This is done through an annual awards programme called ‘A Place to be Proud of,’ organised by Destination Basingstoke and sponsored by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Festival Place and Gazette Newspapers.
This was the eighth year for the awards, presented by TV and radio personality, Anne Diamond. The seven award categories were broad and covered everything from local young achievers to those that contribute to the cultural landscape of the town. All of the nominees and winners had inspirational stories but I managed to talk to three of the winners to get a flavour of the interesting things happening in the town and why Basingstoke is the place to be.
Chase Armitage from 3Run
This Basingstoke-based company won two awards – the Basingstoke Ambassador Award and the Judges Special Award – something that was not surprising considering the huge contribution they have made to the local community and the acclaim they have given to Basingstoke with their success, not only on a national but international scale.
The group have turned their love of freerunning and parkour into a business, and are considered world-leading in this highly skilled sport. Gaining international fame, featuring in film blockbusters including Harry Potter, James Bond and Pirates of the Caribbean, they have also broken 15 Guinness world records and have had over 29 million hits on their You Tube channel.
- 1 20 of the best places to eat out in St Ives
- 2 Stately homes in Hertfordshire: 7 grand estates to visit
- 3 Win £500 of Gallox fashionwear
- 4 Win a luxury break at The Draycott Hotel in Chelsea
- 5 Win a picnic hamper from Booths
- 6 Blue Flag Beaches in Kent 2021
- 7 Beautiful places to go wild swimming in Suffolk
- 8 Win a 2 night beach stay at The Beachcroft Hotel in Sussex
- 9 WIN a holiday to the Isles of Scilly worth £1000
- 10 WIN a stay at Hornington Manor's new shepherd huts
If you’re not entirely sure what freerunning and parkour is then the Director of 3Run, Chase Armitage explains.
“We like to call ourselves ‘students of movement.’ Free running is the art of movement, being able to express yourself in all kinds of acrobatic ways using your environment. It can be done in the streets, in the woods, in a gym or studio space, anywhere really.”
3Run is made up of a number of young Basingstoke locals, Chase is joined by his brothers Cole and Cane, as well as friends and teammates, Shaun Andrews, Adam Brashaw, James Stokes, Scott Young, Mike Wilson and Nathan Barris.
“Life is exciting for us – things are on the up, “says Chase. “Having the chance to work with your best friends around the globe is a dream come true.”
3Run have a number of projects in the pipeline including tours, film and TV appearances. At some point they also hope to set up a 3Run Academy. As well as the important acclaim they bring to the area, 3Run have not forgotten their roots and continue to coach locally to motivate younger generations to get involved. They have been instrumental in the creation of the Basingstoke Parkour Park in Basing Wood, a facility for young people to practice and train. Chase sums up 3Run’s commitment to the area; “Basingstoke has been good to us, it’s got everything you could ever need. We have always been shown support, cheering us on to do what we love. Some people could have got the wrong impression from a group of guys flipping off walls and vaulting hand rails; we were always respected in the right light, and helped along our way.”
Rachel won the Health and Care Award for her inspirational efforts in raising money and awareness of cystic fibrosis in children. Her two-year old daughter, Anna was diagnosed with the condition at only four weeks old, and whilst it was a big shock to the family, Rachel has demonstrated enormous strength and passion in all her fundraising efforts. She has started ‘Anna’s Challenges’ – a charity which helps support children with cystic fibrosis and their families in the Basingstoke area. As well as all of this, she juggles work, being a mum of two and daily intensive care of Anna.
“Anna has a daily regime of medication and physiotherapy,” says Rachel.“In January she was admitted to hospital and we were introduced to and loaned the Vest – a machine which is connected to a vest that inflates and vibrates to shift mucus and clear the airways. I decided to post on Facebook that we were trialling this equipment and if it worked it would be great to do some fundraising towards the �7000 that it costs. The response was great, people said they would help raise money and from there the idea of Anna’s Challenges was born.”
Since Anna came out of hospital, Anna’s Challenges has gone from strength to strength. They are in the process of registering with the Charity Commission and have already hit their target of �7000 for the vest – less than five months since fundraising started. Rachel will continue to raise money in order to provide a wish list of equipment for the team at the hospital.
“Since Anna’s diagnosis she has been under the wonderful team at North Hampshire Hospital. They have looked after her and the whole family since day one – we are so grateful and it’s great to be able to give something back. People and local companies in Basingstoke have been so brilliant and I’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received; we couldn’t have got to where we are now without them! We have had lots of friends, family and people we don’t even know doing different challenges to help raise money and have many more planned for later in the year.”
Music-loving Stuart is an 18 year old student with a talent for events and a big heart. He has raised over �2000 for Breakthrough Breast Cancer by organising two charity gigs which were attended by several hundred people and came up with the idea of recording a charity album. This album brought together 15 local bands and solo artists. ‘The Breakthrough Album’ was a hit, selling on Amazon and I-Tunes. It was this dedication and originality that won him the Young Achiever award.
“I was genuinely shocked to win,” says Stuart. “It really made me proud of my own achievements and it’s nice to know they didn’t go unnoticed.”
Stuart studies Music and Drama
at Queen Mary’s College in Basingstoke but also enjoys it as a hobby.
“I mainly play the guitar but dabble in other things.” he says. After the success of his Breakthrough gigs, he hopes to continue his efforts and is in the early stages of thinking up another big fundraising event. Stuart is originally from Surrey but has a strong sense of loyalty
“It’s full of people who work hard everyday to make a difference. It’s full of talent that never goes to waste and it’s full of bright people ready to work towards a better future. That’s what makes Basingstoke a place to be proud of.”
Find out more
For more information on the awards and Destination Basingstoke visit