Inspirational climbing instructor launches new courses in Norwich

Proving that the sport of climbing is accessible for anyone, a climbing instructor from Norfolk, who was born with only one arm, has fought off adversity to launch a series of new indoor climbing classes in Norwich for thrill seekers across the county.

Dan Jeffrey from Thetford is a climbing wall instructor at Open Youth Venue on Bank Plain in the city centre and is passionate about passing on his love of adrenalin filled sports.

The 27-year-old was born without a left hand or forearm and has about three inches of arm below his elbow.

He was told that it may have been caused by the umbilical cord being wrapped around his arm in the womb, which didn't give it a chance to develop.

'With a disability it isn't the body that's the problem,' he explained.

'It is all in the head. If you believe you can do something then you can do it, there is support out there.'

Nicknamed 'the bandit' by friends, when Mr Jeffrey was at school he dreamt of pursuing a career as a graphic designer.

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'I was advised to go on a six week taster course but I absolutely hated it,' he said.

Although he loved art and knew it was his passion it was not something he wanted to take on as a career, so he went for a careers advisor meeting and it was suggested he did a course in instructing outdoor sports.

He then went on to study at Duchy College in Cornwall, a specialist horticulture and agriculture college.

'I finished in 2005 and have been instructing ever since,' he said.

Mr Jeffrey has had to develop his climbing technique to use his feet more than his arms and said the only real difficulty he has faced is learning how to tie shoe laces.

He said: 'I've always been an active person and am a bit of an adrenalin junkie. Anything I could climb or jump off I was doing it.

'I've never let my disability get in my way and if I couldn't do something the first time I would be adaptive.

'If kids ask me about my arm I tell them I used to do white water rafting and a crocodile bit it off.'

A specialist in disabled climbing, his students said he is an inspiration to them.

Student Frankie Culling, 13, from Mile cross, said: 'Climbing gives you the experience of doing something different that other people may not do everyday. People are surprised at what Dan can do as well.'

Mr Jeffrey holds a variety of climbing courses at Open including The Ascenders and Junior Ascenders. He is also expanding on adult climbing courses, corporate team building climbing events, family sessions and increasing the already vast facilities for disabled climbers.

He said: 'Climbing is a sport for everyone and the climbing routes can be tailor-made. You can makes routes as easy as climbing stairs or as difficult as holding onto to glass.'

For more information on climbing at Open or any other event visit or call 01603 763111.

Have you overcome adversity to achieve something special? Contact reporter Donna-Louise Bishop at or call 01603 772438.