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Strictly star Oti Mabuse to lead Vision Aid Overseas World Sight Day appeal

The professional dancer will share her own story of poor eyesight in the hope that it will inspire others to support the charity’s work

Joseph Sinclair

Strictly Come Dancing’s Oti Mabuse will present a World Sight Day BBC radio appeal on behalf of Vision Aid Overseas.

The professional dancer, who has been part of the Strictly line-up since 2015, will present the appeal on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday 4 October. The appeal will air again on World Sight Day, Thursday 8 October.

Vision Aid Overseas hopes that its appeal will put eye health in the spotlight nationally, helping to further support the work that it does in allowing children affected by poverty in Africa to get the eye care and spectacles they need.

Ahead of the appeal, Ms Mabuse has revealed that as a child she regularly “walked into walls and fell over things,” leading her family to realise that she couldn’t see clearly.

A trip to the local opticians for an eye test resulted in her first pair of glasses. She reveals that, “when I put them on for the first time, suddenly the world came into focus.”

Ms Mabuse, who spent much of her childhood in South Africa, said that getting her own glasses gave her “confidence to achieve all my goals and dreams” and adds that she “would love that for more people.”

Ahead of World Sight Day, Vision Aid Overseas wants to remind the optical community about the eye care needs of children overseas. The charity works in Ethiopia, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Zambia, where eye health services can be limited, to enable those affected by poverty to access affordable glasses and eye care.

Zambian schoolgirl
Catherine, a Zambian schoolgirl assisted by Vision Aid Overseas

Currently, 12 million children worldwide have difficulty learning because they struggle to see. With improved vision, children are more likely to reach their potential, achieve a better education, and in the long term have greater opportunities. This was reflected in a recent Vision Aid Overseas programme in Ethiopia, where 73% of children improved their grades after receiving glasses.

In the appeal, Ms Mabuse will speak about her own experiences with poor eyesight and glasses before presenting the story of Catherine, a schoolgirl in Zambia who was at risk of falling behind until she received an eye test and glasses. Now, Catherine has plans to go to university and become a doctor.

The appeal will air on BBC Radio 4 on 4 October, at 07.54 and 21.25, and again on 8 October at 15.27. After broadcast, it will be available on the BBC Radio 4 Appeal website.