Former Mayor seeks adventurers for annual Ben Nevis challenge

20 people completed the challenge in 2021.

A former Mayor of Dudley is appealing to prospective adventurers to join him in August on what will be the ninth consecutive hike up Ben Nevis in memory of Dudley's legendary peacemaker, Bert Bissell.

Cllr Steve Waltho who is Chair of the Bert Bissell Memorial Society, first organised the climb after a discussion with cllr Dave Tyler and former MP Ian Austin in 2014.

It has since become an annual event and to date some 73 individuals have successfully completed 118 ascents of the 4411-foot giant. Cllr Waltho says he feels grateful to be alive, having been diagnosed with prostate cancer for which he underwent successful radical prostatectomy sur last November.

To help with his recovery and to help raise money for Prostate Cancer Research, the gutsy St Thomas's councillor - who has completed an array of testing charity events over the years - is now planning to climb 20 peaks in the Lake District in March, before the annual ascent of Britain's highest peak.

Links have also been established with Duncansburgh Parish Church where stained glass windows from Bert's former Vicar Street Methodist Church are installed and there is a corner of the Highland Museum in Fort William dedicated to him. Cllr Waltho said:

"Bert was a true legend. Back in the 1930's he helped his father set up a young men's bible class at Vicar Street Methodist Church which in the space of a couple of years had over 300 members including the legendary footballer, Duncan Edwards.

"He encouraged youngsters to be active and loved the mountains. He happened to be in Fort William with a group of his lads on VJ Day in 1945 and climbed the Ben to commence constructing a peace cairn on its summit which today is recognised as the highest war memorial in Britain.

"He climbed the Ben an incredible 107 times and was awarded the World Methodist Peace Prize and MBE for his endeavours as well as being recognised in Hiroshima. He sadly passed away aged 96 in 1998 and is buried in Glen Nevis cemetery which we always visit as a mark of respect.

"We welcome anyone to join us and people from all walks of life have completed the tough climb and we've even had rather emotional moments such as the scattering of loved one's ashes performed on the summit.

"Individuals do need to have a reasonable level of fitness to complete the climb but so many have surprised themselves!"

The party will be leaving Dudley on Thursday August 18th and returning on Sunday 21st. The ascent will take place on Friday August 19th and individuals are encouraged to raise money for any charity of their choice, however, this is certainly not obligatory.

For details of the expedition you can contact Steve either by phone on 07703 308 463 or by e-mail at


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