Ian Austin

Independent for Dudley North

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MP assembles biggest ever team for third annual Ben Nevis challenge

A third annual climb of Ben Nevis is being launched to honour Dudley mountaineer, local hero, peace campaigner and charity fundraiser Bert Bissell and raise funds for local charities.

Dudley North MP Ian Austin has assembled the biggest team yet for this year’s climb taking place on Thursday 11th August.

Over twenty charity fundraisers from Dudley will be led by Austin and the new Dudley Mayor Mo Hanif, including Deputy Mayor Dave Tyler, local councillors Keiran Casey and Steve Waltho, Bert’s lifelong friend Astley Blake who now runs the Bible Class he established, and local charity campaigners Damian Corfield, Shaz Saleem and Steve Rayner.

There will be a photo opportunity with the group at the Mayor’s Parlour, Dudley Council House, Priory Road, DY1 1HF at 12:30pm on Friday 3rd June.

The trek follows a successful climb last August that raised £9,000 for good causes in Dudley including the Hope Centre in Halesowen, The What Centre in Stourbridge, More Mascots Please in Brierley Hill which supports disabled children and their families, the Georgina Unit at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley, and the West Midlands branch of Lupus UK which is based in Coseley.

Bert Bissell (1902-1998) founded the Young Men's Bible Class at Vicar Street in Dudley. He lived at Selborne Road. He was a probation officer and climbed Ben Nevis on VJ Day in 1945 and many times afterwards, constructing a Peace Cairn at its summit. There is a monument to Bert at Coronation Gardens opposite the Council House.

Bert was a friend of the Austin family and someone the MP knew well as a child.

All funds raised this year will go to the new Mayor’s charities which are the Friends of Alfie Johnson who help children with disabilities, the Dudley Centre for Inclusive Living that supports local people with disabilities and Diabetes UK.

Anyone who would like to support the good causes can do so at www.bertbissellmemorialwalk.co.uk.

Ian Austin said:

“I’m delighted that the number of local people taking part in our climb and making a donation is growing every year, and it goes to show the enduring legacy of Bert’s work in the community.

“He was a great friend of my family and I remember him well. He was a legendary figure and an inspiration to so many of us.

“I’ve often thought we ought to do something in his memory and climbing the mountain he conquered so many times to raise money for local charities seems a fitting tribute.

“It’s an honour to be joined by Dudley’s new Mayor Mo Hanif as well as a whole team of local councillors and fundraisers. I’m relying on them to get me through it!”

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