The stepfather of the BBC radio presenter who killed herself midway through her show asked a neighbour for a ladder to help get into her house.
Vicki Archer, 41, was found dead at home by her stepfather just hours after leaving a radio station part through her afternoon slot to drive home – telling colleagues she was ‘upset’.
The mother-of-three had been co-hosting the 3-7pm BBC Radio Shropshire show with Adam Green when she abruptly went off the air shortly before 5pm.
Vicki Archer, 41, was found dead at home by her step-father just hours after leaving her radio show part way through a broadcast
Neighbour Chris Williams, 82, had questioned why Ms Archer was returning home early to her three-bedroom semi-detached property in Shrewsbury at August 6 after seeing her car parked.
She said: ‘I said to my daughter, ‘Vicki’s home early’. It was odd for two reasons – she should have been on the local radio until 7pm and she was not using her own driveway.
‘Later on we were sitting in the garden enjoying the heatwave when we heard a knock at the door. It was Vicki’s stepfather and he was asking if he could borrow a ladder.
‘My daughter got one from our neighbour and went with her stepfather while he climbed up the ladder and got in to the house via a bedroom window.’
Lee Holyoake, 64, did not say anything when he emerged from the property, but Ms Williams knew something was wrong when emergency services rushed to the scene.
Ms Williams, a retired care managed, told The Sun: ‘She was such a jolly and bubbly woman with a beautiful smile and three lovely children. It’s just so sad to think she’s not here anymore’.
Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: ‘It’s a complete tragedy. My son was at school with Vicki in the same year group and they are all devastated by what has happened.
Another anonymous neighbour added: ‘She was a very private person but she had a lovely smile and would always give you a cheery hello. It’s just very sad.’
The mother-of-three had presented the 3-7pm BBC Radio Shropshire show with her co-host of eight years Adam Green (pictured above with Ms Archer)
An inquest heard how she told BBC colleagues she needed ‘a break’ before she returned to her home in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.
In the days leading up to her death, she had retweeted posts about inner demons and mental health issues.
She also shared links to the Samaritans’ hotline number and wrote about ‘hurtful gossip’ saying: ‘Gossip is rarely kind, positive or encouraging. It’s corrosive, hurtful and normally has nothing to do with you.
‘You don’t need to be part of it. Say no thanks and move away.’
Mr Holyoake discovered Vicki’s lifeless body at around 8.15pm after he went round to fix her cooker along with her 73-year-old mum Beryl.
He climbed in through an open window after getting no answer when he tried knocking the door, and performed CPR until paramedics arrived.
Nothing could be done to save the popular broadcaster and she was pronounced dead at 8.21pm.
Shropshire Coroners Court heard Ms Archer had made two previous attempts to take her life and had suffered from depression.
Vicki Archer told colleagues she was ‘upset’ before leaving work, where she was a popular presenter
Vicki Archer and Adam Green joking during their appearance on Sport Relief 2014, where they became hockey players
Today, Shropshire Coroner John Ellery concluded Ms Archer had died as a result of suicide.
He said: ‘Victoria had made two previous attempts to take her own life in the past and suffered from depression.
‘Victoria left her radio show in mid-air and she said she was going for a break.
‘My conclusion is Victoria did do the act that led to her death.
‘She intended to kill herself, and that leads me to the inevitable conclusion of suicide.
In the days leading up to her sudden death, Ms Archer wrote about ‘hurtful and corrosive gossip’
Ms Archer had also retweeted mental health advice including this from ‘Tiny Buddha’
‘This is a tragic case for her family and our condolences are and must be with her children.’
The a statement read to the court, Mr Holyoake described the heartbreaking moment he found his step-daughter’s body.
He said: ‘At approximately 1pm on August 6, [Vicki’s mother] Beryl and I called at her house to give her a necklace. I was gong to fix the cooker.
‘Beryl said she was eating well and she appeared her usual chatty self. She is a radio presenter and she is at work from 1.30pm to 7pm.
‘I made arrangements to fix her cooker while she was at work.
‘We left and at 5.15pm and I went back to her house. When I was approaching the house, I saw a female approach her driveway. She had white hair and a long dress, similar to Victoria.
‘As I was driving past the house I saw the back of the person going towards the door.
‘When I was approaching the house I was expecting to see the person at the door. I found the key was missing from the key safe by the door. I knocked the door and there was no reply.
‘I started to get annoyed because the person who went into the house did not come. I phoned my wife to let her know. I did not see Victoria’s car on the drive.
‘I went back to our house and picked up my wife. We went to Radio Shropshire.
‘One of Victoria’s colleagues told me Victoria had left work at 5pm and said she was feeling upset and would be in work tomorrow.
‘Alarm bells started to ring.
Vicki Archer’s father saw a woman matching her description entering her home shortly after 5pm but could not gain access. He later found her hanged
‘Victoria has made two previous attempts to take her own life and suffers from depression.
‘We went to her house and continued to try and raise her by banging the doors and windows but there was still no reply. We had to return home and I went alone back to her house with a key for her door.
‘I couldn’t get the key into the door because there was a key on the other side.
‘I noticed Victoria’s bedroom window was open and I managed to get a ladder from one of her neighbours. I got in through the bedroom window.
‘There were no signs of forced entry in the house. I searched the house and garden but could not find her. I called my wife to come and assist me. She said to check the loft.
‘I went to the top of the stairs and the loft hatch was closed as normal. As I checked the right hand side of the loft, I saw Victoria in the corner.
‘I went downstairs to phone an ambulance. I also asked for police. I went back into the loft. I took a pair of scissors and cut her down.
‘The emergency services operator started to give me instructions to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
‘As I did this, the ambulance arrived. The paramedic pronounced life extinct when he arrived.’
A statement from PC Matthew Bourne, of West Mercia Police, said: ‘At 8.15pm on August 6 there was a report from a man who had found his daughter hanging in the attic.
‘When we arrived there was a distressed female who I now know is Beryl Holyoake. Lee Holyoake was in a distressed state, attempting CPR on a female.
‘She was on her back. I could see the female was not moving. The paramedic pronounced life extinct at 8.21pm. Shropshire Fire and Rescue attended to remove the body.’
The inquest heard Vicki had a blood alcohol level slightly over the drink drive limit as well as some traces of medication in her blood.
But the post-mortem examination suggested alcohol and drugs did not play a part in her death.
Dr Joanna Stafford, who carried out the post mortem at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital on August 9, said: No alcohol or drugs were implicated in the death. The cause of death was hanging.’
A statement released by Vicki’s family said: ‘We still cannot believe that Vicki’s not here.
The BBC’s head of regional programmes said colleagues of Vicki Archer, pictured, ‘loved the sense of fun she brought to her shows and the station’
‘Her zest for life was infectious, she was a wonderful mother and daughter and her charm brought a smile to all those who knew her.
‘She could light up a room.
‘While we will always miss her we want to remember and celebrate everything that she achieved which is why in the spring we are planning a memorial celebration of her life.
‘But in the meantime we want to thank everyone for their support and kindness helping us through our immeasurable loss.’
Gavin Hogarth, Vicki’s ex-husband and the father of her children, attended the inquest but did not wish to comment outside court.
David Jennings, Head of the BBC’s regional programmes, West Midlands, said in a statement afterwards: ‘We are heartbroken at Vicki’s death.
‘Everyone here at Radio Shropshire respected her as a great presenter and journalist, but so much more than that we loved the sense of fun she brought to her shows and the station.
‘Her loss leaves a huge void. Our thoughts are with her family at this sad time.’
For confidential support in the UK, call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch. See www.samaritans.org for details.
A statement released by Ms Archer’s family called her a wonderful mother with an infectious zest for life and a smile that could ‘light up a room’