Safari trip of a lifetime for centenarian

Vi Vickers celebrates her 100th birthday

Vi Vickers celebrates her 100th birthday

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CENTENARIAN Vi Vickers has fond memories of her first flight – taken at the age of 89.

Travelling with friends Elliott and Patricia Allison, she spent six weeks in South Africa.

Receiving a card from the Queen

Receiving a card from the Queen

Mr Allison, a former vicar, said: “She embarked on her first full flight in an aeroplane in 2005, flying out for a six-week trip around the Garden Route.

“She especially remembers her stay in a safari park, where she went on two safaris – one late afternoon and another the next morning at 5am.”

Vi, of Marine Drive, Worthing, was born Violet Kathleen French, the youngest of Jack and Gertrude French’s four children, on January 7, 1916, in Peckham, south London.

She never really got to know her father, as he was killed in action in the last year of World War I.

Vi went to school in Brockley and became active in the parish church there.

She later worked in Great Portland Street and met her future husband, Headley Vickers, there. They were married in September, 1940, but her home in Peckham was bombed about the same time, so they moved with both their mothers to Kingswood.

The couple later adopted Bryan, the son of Vi’s brother.

Mr Allison said: “She still recalls fond memories of Bryan, especially of his becoming an accomplished and well-known pianist and church organist.”

The family moved several times before settling in Worthing, including running a small guest house in Bexhill.

Bryan died in 2001 and Vi still struggles to come to terms with the loss. To help her cope with the grief, she was advised to make the most of her money, so she has had some memorable experiences over the last 15 years.

She recalls with great joy her excursions to several parts of the UK, including Yorkshire, the Lake District and the West Country, as well as her big trip to South Africa. She went on to fly to Germany, Switzerland and France with friends over the following three years.

Mr Elliott said: “Vi was thrilled to be taken back to her childhood home in Peckham during the last few years and was amazed at how the area had changed.

“She still recalls many of these experiences with great fondness.”

To celebrate her 100th birthday on Thursday, Vi asked for a small lunch with her chosen guests, nephew John French and his wife Patsy, niece Anne Draper and her husband Peter, long-standing friend Dr June Raeburn, close friends Elliott and Patricia Allison, and a few more friends.

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