Ian Austin

Independent for Dudley North

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National Express back charity Ben Nevis challenge

National Express has stepped in to sponsor a climb of Ben Nevis to raise funds for local charities.

The third annual Bert Bissell Memorial Walk will see a local team climb Ben Nevis in honour of Dudley mountaineer, local hero, peace campaigner and charity fundraiser Bert Bissell.

National Express is providing a coach to travel from the Black Country to Scotland after more local people than ever before signed up for the challenge to try and beat the £9,000 total raised by last year’s walk.

Over twenty charity fundraisers from Dudley will be led by Austin and the new Dudley Mayor Mohammed Hanif, including Deputy Mayor Dave Tyler, local councillors Keiran Casey, Steve Waltho and Cathryn Bayton, Astley Blake who now runs the Bible Class Bert Bissell established, local charity campaigners Damian Corfield, Shaz Saleem and Steve Rayner and former Dudley police chief Richard Green.

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:

"The whole team are really grateful to have the support of National Express, helping more local fundraisers take part than ever before.

"I’m delighted that the number of local people taking part in our climb and making a donation is growing every year.

"It just goes to show the enduring legacy of Bert’s work in the community. He was a legendary figure and an inspiration to so many of us. "

Tom Stables, Managing Director of National Express said:

"This is a fantastic event, and this year promises to be the biggest and best yet.

"Supporting our local communities is extremely important to us and we are delighted to be able to provide the transport for the fundraising team.

"We wish them every success in their efforts."

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