Councillors to join Ben Nevis climb in aid of charity

Five councillors in Dudley are set to join an expedition to Fort William this summer to raise funds for the mayor's charities.

Cllrs Richard Body, Steve Waltho, Anne Millward, Mayor of Dudley and Shaz Saleem, with Cllrs Simon Phipps and Ruth Buttery
Cllrs Richard Body, Steve Waltho, Anne Millward, Mayor of Dudley and Shaz Saleem, with Cllrs Simon Phipps and Ruth Buttery

The councillors will join a group of 30 walkers to climb Ben Nevis on Friday, August 13, in an annual pilgrimage of the Bert Bissell Memorial Society.

The walkers will meet with the mayor of Dudley, who happens to be in the area on her summer holiday that week, before undertaking their hike up Britain’s highest peak.

It includes councillors Richard Body, Anne Millward, Shaz Saleem, Simon Phipps and Ruth Buttery.

Councillor Anne Millward, the mayor of Dudley, said: "I am delighted to be able to wish this brave team of climbers well on their exciting trip to Ben Nevis.

"Bert Bissell MBE was a peace-making legend in Dudley who was in Fort William on VJ Day in 1945. Together with members of his Vicar Street Young Men’s Bible class, he climbed Ben Nevis that day for world peace and began constructing a peace cairn on its summit that today is recognised as Britain's highest war memorial.

"Every year the mayor selects charities to fundraise for and I am hugely grateful that the group will use this annual trip in memory of Bert to raise money for my chosen charities."

Bert Bissell climbed Ben Nevis 107 times and was laid to rest following his death in 1998, at the age of 96, in the cemetery at Glen Nevis. He was instrumental in twinning Dudley with Fort William, held the freemanship of both Dudley and Lochaber and won the World Methodist Peace Prize for his incredible work and achievements.

A memorial plaque and stone were recently placed in Buffery Park in Dudley to commemorate Bert's legacy. The Bert Bissell Memorial Society was formed in 2017 but the annual climb began in 2014. To date 65 individuals have achieved more than 90 ascents raising well over £25,000 for charities.

Councillor Steve Waltho, chairman of the Bert Bissell Memorial Society, said: "Despite Covid, the pilgrimage continues and this year we have the highest ever number of councillors with us including Ruth Buttery, Simon Phipps, society vice-chair Shaz Saleem and Richard Body who has had two knee replacements.

"Fundraising is at the discretion of the individuals but for certain this year money will be raised for the mayor's charities and the Leukaemia Unit at Russells Hall Hospital.

"We also hope to meet friends in Fort William who knew Bert, visit Duncansburgh Parish Church which has windows from the now defunct Vicar Street Methodist Church and visit Bert's grave to pay our respects. I'd like to personally thank everyone for keeping Bert's legacy alive."

The mayor's charities are Dudley Mind and The Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme.

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