CHERYL GIBBS: Students and parents can rest easy over these Portsmouth halls

A few years ago I abseiled off one of the high-rise buildings in Portsmouth to raise money for The Rowans Hospice.

Thursday, 17th August 2017, 8:32 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 11:52 am
PETRIFIED Anxious Cheryl before her 2013 abseil

I did it with Luke Crocker from Portsmouth student accommodation provider Unilife.

Needless to say, he was slightly braver than me. I actually had tears of fear in my eyes as I went up and over the roof to lower myself down. I was petrified.

Luke, however, was cool as a cucumber, but we both did it and raised much-needed funds for a great charity.

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I met Luke earlier in the week when I went back to Unilife to see how it was doing.

I was always impressed by the standard of student accommodation it provided for the city and was even more struck when I visited its new property in Middle Street, right opposite the university and just across the road from the Guildhall.

It was absolutely incredible. It had a free gym, pool table, chill-out areas and it even offers social events and yoga classes to those students living there. Let’s just say it’s a far cry from the student properties I’ve seen in the past.

Luke was telling me about how the nature of what students are looking for has changed since the Grenfell Tower disaster in June and how students and parents ask more safety-related questions about the building and fire risks.

Once upon a time most students only ever asked about Wi-Fi speeds or whether the studio had an en-suite… how times have changed and how sad they have become.

Luke told me Unilife has just passed all its safety checks by Portsmouth City Council and Hampshire Fire and Rescue and I was thrilled for it. It really is a business which has strived to do the best and to offer the best for students who choose this great city as their home for their university studies.

I found out all of Unilife’s buildings are made of – and I quote – ‘good old-fashioned bricks and mortar’ and it uses zero cladding.

Parents can rest assured their children will be safe. It was a pleasure returning to Unilife and I am thrilled it offers something so incredible for the thousands of students who will be coming here next month.


In our household it’s all about movies and TV shows. Call me sad, but I love nothing more than sitting in front of the TV after work and watching a movie or the latest episode of my favourite show.

This week we’ve started watching The People V OJ Simpson an American series, about the OJ Simpson trial.

It’s incredible and I had no idea so much evidence was put against him and he still managed to walk free.

OJ is played by Cuban Gooding Junior who is amazing – genuinely stellar.

It also sheds light on Simpson’s friendship with Robert Kardashian, the later father of the famous Kardashian sisters and he’s played by David Schwimmer. It’s a brilliant series that takes on a documentary feel and I highly recommend it.


It seems the friendship between Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet has lasted. They were pictured enjoying each other’s company this week at Leo’s retreat in France.

It’s the second time the couple have reunited there. In July they were in St Tropez when Kate attended Leo’s gala for his environmental foundation.

It’s 20 years since the pair first worked together on Titanic and their friendship has been strong ever since – hard to do in Hollywood.

They were back on the big screen in 2008 in Revolutionary Road, directed by Kate’s then-husband Sam Mendes and have been close ever since.

Shame it’s nothing more as they’d make a beautiful couple, but sometimes being BFFs is the best of all.