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Blind BBC Presenter, Amar Latif, Completes Dorset Adventure Challenge

Amar Latif OBE, completed an impressive abseiling and rock climbing challenge on the Dorset Coast.

Amir Latif OBE laughs with Sophia Reed at the foot of a climbing route. They both wear blue climbing helmets and are smiling

The blind adventurer, Amar Latif, who has appeared on BBC’s Celebrity Masterchef and holds a regular guest presenter post on The One Show, joined Dorset-based adventure company Land & Wave to complete a charity adventure challenge on Saturday.

The TV presenter was helping Land & Wave highlight how adventure really can be accessible for all and raise money for Dorset Blind association.

Amar says, “What an incredible adventure with the wonderful team from Land & Wave. I was blown away by instructor Verity who took on the challenge of being blindfolded, not only when rock climbing and abseiling down The Dancing Ledge with the sound of crashing waves in the background, but for the whole day!

A group of four people stand outside some grey farm buildings chatting. They are holding climbing ropes and wearing backpacks. One person is wearing a pair of blackout goggles.

Amar Latif lost 95% of his sight aged 18 and has been an advocate for accessible adventure and travel ever since.

The challenge involved Amar completing a steep, undulating 40 minute hike down to the cliffs, followed by an abseil down the sea cliffs at UK beauty spot Dancing Ledge near Swanage. He was accompanied by a sighted guide, Sophia Reed from Activities Industry Mutual (an insurance company specialising in supporting outdoor adventure providers).

“What a brilliant day seeing one of our Members in action and having the chance to guide Amar through their exciting activities! Loved it and so pleased to have been a part of it all” says Sophia.

Amar said, “Alex and Sophia were amazing sighted guides – they painted the pictures of the countryside and shorelines so beautifully! Alex’s description of the town of Wareham was so vivid as we drove from the trainstation, and Sophia described the amazing turquoise coast so well that I didn’t believe I was in the UK!”

Amar Latif and outdoor instructor, Verity, stand chatting on a rocky grey ledge in the sunshine. The sea is in the background. Verity wears a white climbing helmet and Amar wears a blue climbing helmet

Following the abseil, Amar then completed an outdoor rock climb on the limestone cliffs, using sound and touch to feel his way up the jagged route. He relied on descriptive instructions from the group to manoeuvre upwards, clinging to the ammonite-clad rocks.

Amar Latif Climbs Dancing Ledge

A rocky ledge and blue skies above. Amar Latif climbs the rock face whilst being filmed by a cameraman

Amar was joined in the challenge by outdoor instructor, Verity Church, who wore black-out goggles for the duration of the challenge to gain a small insight into what it’s like to experience adventure as a blind person.

Verity also had a sighted guide to assist them and remained in a blindfold for over four hours for the hike, climb and abseil.

Amar says, “”I got so used to Verity being my blind companion that when she took her blindfold off, it felt weird! It was so wonderful to swap notes with her about how the sighted world navigates these kinds of spaces versus how the blind world adapts when faced with these challenging adventures.”

A grey haired man acts as a sighted guide for a person who is wearing blckout goggles. They are walking down a steep green hill in the countryside

The pair regularly compared notes throughout the challenge, building a strong rapport as they navigated uneven terrain, atmospheric conditions and unfamiliar sensations at height without sight.

Amar Latif and Verity Church Are Quick to Build a Rapport

Amar Latif and instructor Verity share a  bonding moment and laugh on top of a cliff top with the sea in the background

Verity says “It activated an immediate trust and respect in each other. We instantly connected. It was a surreal experience that left me feeling more in tune with the landscape. I am full of respect for people who are visually impaired. Trust and instinct is so important.”

“Just hearing Amar constantly joking and having to chase his speed gave me the confidence to trust my body. Amar and I exchanged our experiences all afternoon, bridging the gap between sighted and non-sighted. I’m so grateful for such a supportive team to help us complete the challenge and raise funds for Dorset Blind Association and their amazing work.”

A group of six people stand on a grey rocky ledge smiling. They all wear blue climbing helmets. They include Nick Durrent from Acorn Adventure travel, Verity Church from Land & wave, Amir Latif OBE known as The Blind Adventurer, Sophie Reed from Activities Industry Mutual, Sam Baker from Dorset Blind Association and Rosie Tanner from Land & Wave
Caption: Left to Right: Nick Durrant from Acorn Adventure Travel, Verity Church from Land & wave, Amar Latif OBE known as ‘The Blind Adventurer’, Sophia Reed from Activities Industry Mutual, Sam Baker from Dorset Blind Association and Rosie Tanner from Land & Wave

This adventure challenge was led by Land & Wave in a bid to understand some of the accessibility challenges facing the blind and visually impaired community. The adventurers were originally meant to be coasteering as a group, but the sea conditions meant that they had to switch to the contingency plan of abseiling and rock climbing instead.

Alex Mortimer, Land & Wave company Director says, “Amar was a keynote speaker at a recent event our insurers, AIM, hosted. He was so inspirational and fearless, I just had to ask him to join us for an adventure in Dorset. It’s been fascinating to learn how we can do better as an industry at making adventure accessible for all.”

Amar Latif and his sighted guide, Sophia Reed belay a climber. They hold a rope. Alex Mortimer is an outdoor instructor who assists the pair from behind. They all stand on a rocky grey ledge with the sea in the background

The challenge has raised £620 so far, which will go directly to local charity, Dorset Blind Association. Sam Baker, Community Relations Officer for Dorset Blind, joined the challenge. She says, “Being involved in this incredible climbing challenge has been an unforgettable experience for all of us at Dorset Blind Association. Verity’s bravery and can-do attitude were truly inspirational, and Amar’s positive approach to life was infectious and motivating for everyone involved. 

Sam Baker from Dorset Blind Association talks to Amir Latif at the bottom of a grey rock face.

“We are immensely grateful to the entire Land & Wave team for their fantastic guidance and support throughout the event. Thanks to the generosity of everyone who donated, we’ve raised £620 so far, which will make a significant impact on the lives of visually impaired individuals in our community. This event has highlighted the power of adventure and teamwork in raising awareness and support. Thank you to everyone who made this possible.” 

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It’s been fascinating to learn how we can do better as an industry at making adventure accessible for all

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