Dudley group conquer Ben Nevis

20 Dudley folk have made it to the summit of Ben Nevis to lay a wreath on the summit of Britain's highest peak.

The 7th annual pilgrimage of Dudley's Bert Bissell Memorial Society looked to be in jeopardy with Covid restrictions, loss of coach transport and knowing that the warm welcome by Scottish friends in Fort William wasn't possible. 

The mountain has significant links to Dudley through Bert who climbed it a staggering 107 times.

Chair of the Society Councillor Steve Waltho MBE put out an urgent message indicating that the mission could only go ahead if Covid restrictions were accepted, accommodation was open and participants made their own travel arrangements. Councillor Waltho said:

"Without doubt this was not only the most stressful visit to date due to Covid limitations but also the toughest climb due to the strength sapping heat which afforded incredible views from the summit which is rather unusual.

“My wife Jayne had her work cut out as base commander but handled it all admirably and the camaraderie and support amongst the group was phenomenal.

“People joined the group for a variety of reasons and without doubt the most moving sight of all was five members of Jules Garratt-Payne's family whom we raised funds for last year including husband Darren all making it to the summit to unfurl her banner after she tragically lost her fight for life last November.

The spirit, courage and willpower shown by this group was exemplary with the final climb group spending nearly 12 hours on the mountain". 

Fellow Dudley Councillor Simon Phipps also climbed raising money for the Edwards Trust as did Coseley Scouts Chair Nick Gallagher raising much needed funds for his Scout Group. Finally Society Vice-Chair and Dudley's Taxi Chief Shaz Saleem was raising money for the Saleem Foundation.

The following day was VJ Day and the team gathered at Bert's grave in Glen Nevis Cemetery to pay their respects to the legendary Dudley figure and place a wreath and flowers on his grave. A prayer was read out by Councillor Waltho and a minutes silence observed for all those who had lost their lives in war and the current Crovid pandemic.


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