THIS year’s annual pilgrimage by Dudley trekkers to Ben Nevis will remember climbers past who have passed away too soon.

Intrepid hikers from the borough are getting set to head off on their tenth anniversary trip to the top of Britain’s highest peak.

The annual ascents of Ben Nevis have been taking place since former councillor Steve Waltho decided to rekindle a link between Dudley and the Scottish mountain in the Highlands, near Fort William, back in 2014.

Peace campaigner Bert Bissell, from Dudley, had climbed the Ben 107 times – taking hundreds of people to its summit where he had the world’s highest peace cairn built.

In 2014, after a meeting between Steve and fellow former Dudley mayor Dave Tyler and former Dudley MP Lord Ian Austin, it was decided an annual trip to Ben Nevis would take place in honour of Bert.

Since 2014, some 79 individuals have made 126 ascents and re-established civic links having met dignitaries from Fort William.

This year, for the tenth anniversary, a group of nearly 20 people will descend on Fort William on Thursday August 17 to hopefully climb Ben Nevis the day after.

They will pay their respects at Bert's graveside before visiting the church for a commemorative service on Saturday August 19.

Joining the group this time will be Dudley historian Rose Cook-Monk and Philip Tibbetts, who hails from Halesowen but is now the official flag designer at the Court of Lyon in Scotland.

Alderman Steve Waltho, chairperson of the Bert Bissell Memorial Society which was formed in 2017, said "We're very grateful to friends in Fort William who make us most welcome and many people from Dudley have climbed with us over the years for their own personal reasons as well as raising thousands of pounds for charities.

“It is with great sadness that this year we'll especially remember two former climbers who have sadly passed away.”

Walkers will remember Ben Corfield, who died aged just 19 after being hit by a car last November, and Councillor Richard Body who died on May 9 just days after being re-elected to his Cradley and Wollescote seat.

Both had climbed Ben Nevis on previous trips. Ben in 2016 with his dad Damian, a councillor on Dudley Council; and Cllr Body who made the ascent in 2021 in “appalling weather” after having undergone two knee replacements.

Steve said: “His was passionate about his local community and was striving to raise money for youngsters in his beloved Homer Hill Park for a Pump Track for youngsters to use.

“Bissell Society vice-chair and former councillor Shaz Saleem suggested we support that cause and we're happy to do so."

Anyone wishing to sponsor the event can make a donation on the JustGiving page for Homer Hill Park or via the following link: