FIVE intrepid Dudley councillors are set to join an expedition to Fort William this summer to raise money for the Mayor’s charities.

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 as it happens will be in the area on her summer holiday that week, before undertaking their hike up Britain’s highest peak.

Councillor Anne Millward, Dudley's Mayor, said: "I’m 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 Bessell climbed Ben Nevis 107 times and was laid to rest following his passing 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 to commemorate Bert's legacy. The Bert Bessell Memorial Society was formed in 2017 but the annual climb began in 2014. To date 65 individuals have completed more than 90 ascents raising more than £25,000 for charities.

Councillor Steve Waltho, chairman of the Bert Bissell 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."

He said fundraising would be at the discretion of individuals but any money raised will go to the Mayor's charities - Dudley Mind and The Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme - and the leukaemia unit at Russells Hall Hospital.

Cllr Waltho, from Kingswinford, added: "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."

People can make donations to the cause online on JustGiving (search Saleem Foundation).