Vicky Meets… Vicki Palmer, Co-Op Store Manager and nervous abseiler

Vicky Palmer and Jack Benham
Vicky Palmer and Jack Benham

When you’re scared of heights chucking yourself off the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth is not the obvious thing to do.

But no matter how terrified she is, Vicki Palmer is determined to overcome her fears in order to help a charity that has provided a lifeline to her brother.

“Matthew has been going to The Point in Chichester for more than ten years and without it he would have no social life at all,” explained Vicki. “There is very little support for adult services like The Point, which also provides a break for full-time carers like my mum.”

A centre for severely physically disabled adults that serves a wide area of Sussex and Hampshire, most of The Point’s members have cerebral palsy, but some have multiple sclerosis or a disability as a result of a traffic accident. Seeking to improve the lifestyles, confidence and ability to cope of its attendees, the centre also aims to make people better aware of the challenges faced by those with physical disabilities. Organising activities and outings, centre staff also advise on issues surrounding matters of finance and dealing with authority.

“If you don’t know someone who is in the situation then you have no idea how hard it can be for them,” said Vicki. I’m lucky that my employer is the Southern Co-operative [Co-Op] because they have a Love Your Neighbourhood programme as part of the company’s values and that means that as individual stores we can support local charities that are important to us. The Oliver Whitby Co-Op store in Parklands has been helping to raise money for The Point through sponsoring me for my abseil and with our recent raffle. In all, I’m hoping to raise around £800.”

An independent local charity, The Point is forever grateful to people like Vicki for their fundraising efforts, as costs come in at around £250,000 a year and updating and improvements are only achieved through fund raising.

Admitting that she tries not to think too hard about how high it is going to be, Vicki is being joined in the abseil by colleague Jack Benham.

“He says he is going to push me out if he has to,” joked Vicki, adding: “I’m hoping that as soon as I get off the ledge that I’ll be fine; that I’ll just get on with it. Hopefully it will cure me of my fear of heights,” she said, telling me that she is watching lots of videos of other people ‘walking’ their way down the tower and trying to pick up tips for a swift descent.

Touched by the generosity of Co-Op customers, Vicki is thrilled by the support and sponsorship she has received so far.

“Customers have really got behind me and the charity. I thank them all so much.”

To sponsor Vicki visit Chichester’s Co-Op stores in either Bognor Road or Oliver Whitby Road.

For more information or to or arrange donation of goods for The Point’s charity shops: 01243 775330; info@scope-west-sussex.org.uk