BASINGSTOKE proved it is a place to proud of as the sportsmen and women of the area came shining through at the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Sports Awards.

For the second year running, Basingstoke's stars scooped four awards - this time thanks to Caroline Ayers, Lance Kinder, LeRoy Angel and Basingstoke and Mid Hants Athletics Club's men's A team.

The glittering evening at Hampshire County Cricket Club's Rose Bowl ground, attended by 250 invited guests, was hosted by BBC South Today's Roger Johnson, and the awards were presented by Hampshire and England pace bowler Chris Tremlett - with Basingstoke having 14 nominations.

Basketball star Ayers, fresh from her bronze medal success in the Commonwealth Games, won the senior sportswoman award.

She was soon followed up to the stage by squash world champion Kinder as he picked up the veteran sportsman honour.

England Rugby Union president Angel was away with England at the Hong Kong Sevens, so missed the chance to personally pick up his senior volunteer accolade.

The quartet of local awards was completed when the men's athletics team beat off stiff competition from the Southampton diving academy to win the senior team category.

A surprised Billy Jewers, coach of the winning team, said: "I can't believe we have won as we were up against the Southampton divers who have gone to the Commonwealth Games, so it makes it extra special."

Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Ayers said: "I was really surprised to win the senior woman's award at The Gazette Sports Awards, but this is even better. Then, of course, there was the bronze medal and the whole Commonwealth Games experience."

The 24-year-old was disappointed that a back injury kept her out of the last three games, but now she has plenty of time to recover as the new season does not start until September, when she will be back in action for Solent Stars.

Squash ace Kinder only took up the sport at 40 as a way of losing weight. Last year, he won the World Masters title in Canada.

He said: "It is delightful to pick up this award and it is just as much a surprise as when I won at The Gazette Sports Awards in Basingstoke in March."

The 70-year-old from Overton, who plays at the Beechdown club, added: "You should really get fit first and then play squash, but I did it the other way and just found I was good at it. Now I have played for England for 15 years."

Basingstoke and Deane Local Sports Council chairman Kevin Laing, who was also at the awards, said: "The standard is a lot higher this year, so to still win four awards is a great achievement for Basingstoke."

Basingstoke's other nine nominations in the 17 categories were Charlotte Purdue and Michelle Arnold (junior sportswoman), Robert Tobin (senior sportsman), Jean Maton (senior sportswoman), Billy Jewers (coach), Mark Austen-Alvis, Hannah Boots (junior volunteer), Testbourne school under-13 rugby (junior team), Darryl Quinn (official) and Chris Evans (service to sport).

First published: Thursday, April 6, 2006