ANDOVER and District Mencap (ADM) has announced the appointment of a familiar face into a newly created role at the charity.

Vikki Cheshire, who has volunteered for the organisation for 11 years, has been named as ADM’s first learning disability ambassador.

During her decade-plus with the charity, she has been running an epilepsy awareness day event for the last three years, with the next one planning for March, next year.

She has also been lobbying the ADM board for over a year to create a role for a learning disability ambassador – but the news of her appointment still came as a shock.

“Chris (Dixon, CEO of ADM) gave me my appointment letter and gave me a big smile,” she said.

“I thought it was a thank you letter for the support I'd given when I went to help with a talk at Winchester University.

“When I opened the letter my jaw dropped.”

She added: “I'm very proud of this appointment. My epilepsy means I can't hold down a paid job because my health is unreliable.

“I'm honoured Andover and District Mencap has given me this role.”

Commenting on the appointment, Chris said: “We are pleased to have Vikki on board as ambassador, she is very passionate about ADM and the work that we do to support people with learning disabilities.

“She is always keen to be involved and for us to enable her to shout from the rooftops about ADM not only makes her smile, but it makes us smile too.

“Vikki is an inspiration to us all, and we will support her to inspire others and make a difference.”

Vikki got the idea to lobby ADM to create a learning difficulty ambassador role after being inspired by a conversation she had while volunteering.

She said: “My work colleague saw the Dam Busters film. She told me about the RAF charity having disabled representatives.

“I realised we could do the same here at Andover and District Mencap.”

As part of her work with ADM, in the last year alone Vikki has given talks about her epilepsy during ADM training days, attended fundraising events such as Armed Forces Day and the Tip Top events wedding fayre, while she also helps out in the office on Fridays and has supported Brilliant Drama Group Variety concert.

Vikki says she is hoping her new role will enable her to change the public’s perception of adults with learning disabilities.

“People with Learning Disabilities are not getting the same support and understanding with their health issues as people who don't have learning disabilities," she said.

“In this role, I will be able to show our community what I am capable of. There is so much more I can do but when people see me on the floor having a seizure they limit what I am capable of and it's unfair.

“The other problem I have is they see me and wonder why I have support, there is so much more going on beyond what I look like.”