Climbers brave Snowdon blindfolded for sight charity

WHILE most people climb mountains for the view, two fundraisers will not be enjoying any of the scenery on their way up Snowdon next month as they are doing it blindfolded.

Mark Brant and Andrea Jakes will be attempting to climb the 3,650ft peak in Wales completely in the dark. The pair were inspired to take on the unusual challenge by Lisa Brant, Mark’s wife, and Andrea’s sister.

Lisa, 33, was diagnosed four years ago with a rare condition that means she is gradually losing her sight.

The nursery nurse, formerly from Fenstanton and now living in Oundle, can no longer drive and has trouble seeing people and things in her peripheral vision. Ultimately she could be left totally blind.

Mark, 36, and Andrea, 30 of Hemingford Grey, want to raise money for research into the condition - Retinitis Pigmentosa known as RP - and to help other people in similar situations.

Mark, an associate director of St Ives-based firm Brant Associates, said: “It is what Lisa has been through in recent years that spurred me on to do something to help raise money for research into cures for Retinitis Pigmentosa.

“I figured that as many people climb Snowdon for fun, people wouldn’t want to sponsor me unless I made it more of a challenge.

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“As the money is to be raised for an eye condition I decided that I would therefore try and climb it blindfolded.”

It was during a routine eye check Lisa was warned she could have RP. The genetic condition affects the rods and cones of the retina.

After specialists at Moorfields Eye Hospital confirmed the diagnosis, Lisa’s driving license was revoked, the day before her wedding to Mark.

Mark said: “It was completely out of the blue. We had gone to the opticians together. They asked me to leave the room. Lisa came out later in tears, saying she had this condition and it means she might not be able to drive.

“At the time Lisa was diagnosed we had never heard of the condition and to us it sounded more like a spell from Harry Potter. Unfortunately it was nothing so trivial.”

Lisa lost her job as a lettings agent and currently relies on friends and family to help her get around.

Mark said: “The other major issue is Lisa does not see people coming to across to her. To look at Lisa you would not know. In terms of central vision she gets by.”

Helping Mark and Andrea on their way up the mountain will be Lisa’s brother Mark Fowler, her brother-in-law Nigel Jakes, and friends James Leschallas and Paul Adams.

Lisa also hopes to join the team on the five mile ascent on June 25. Plans are to raise �1500 for the charity RP Fighting Blindness.

Mark said: “Both Andrea and I have been practising going out and walking with the blind-folds on to work out the best way of getting up the mountain.

“The thing I have noticed most - it wears you out a lot quicker because you have to rely on your other senses.

“Walking along a normal level path is okay but when you start walking on an incline, that is different. Five miles is not going to be easy.”

To sponsor Mark and the team visit or e-mail