Fisher, William Robert (‘Bertie’) (1950–2001), rally driver and businessman, was born 25 March 1950 in Ballinamallard, Co. Fermanagh, one of four sons of Tommy Fisher, owner of a structural engineering firm, and Elsie Fisher, both originally from Co. Leitrim. He was educated at the local primary school and later at the Enniskillen Technical Institute. He began rallying at the age of seventeen as co-driver to fellow Fermanagh man Ernie Campbell, and in 1971 began driving in his own right in the Group 1 category, initially in Minis and in 1973 in a succession of Ford Escorts, winning the Group 1 category in the Circuit of Ireland in 1973 and finishing in twelfth place in the overall standings the following year. In 1976 he took a year out of rallying due to injury and business commitments. He finished second in the Tarmac championship in 1979, as well as third in the Circuit of Ireland, and had a host of other good finishes, including winning the Hills of Donegal Rally. The previous year (1978) he linked up with Austin Fraser, who was to remain his main co-driver till his retirement from the sport in 1989, when he was succeeded in the navigator's seat by Rory Kennedy. Fisher's first major Tarmac championship event win was in 1982, when he won the Ulster Rally in a Ford Escort MK2, and he won the Donegal Rally in 1987 in an Opel Manta 400, but it was in the 1990s that he really began to dominate Irish rallying, winning the Circuit of Ireland on three occasions (1995, 1997, 1999), all while driving a Subaru Impreza 555. He also won his favourite event, the Killarney Rally of the Lakes, on a record six occasions, including a five-in-a-row in 1990–94, and again in 1996, having missed the 1995 event. His initial victory in 1990 was in a BMW M3, and the following year he drove a Ford Sierra Cosworth 4x4 and afterwards a Subaru Legacy RS (1993, 1994) and a Subaru Impreza 555 (1996). He also had two further victories in the Ulster Rally, bringing his career total to four, in the Sierra Cosworth (1991) and the Impreza (1995), as well as the Ulster International Rally in 1996 (Impreza). In all he won twenty Irish international rally titles in the 1979–98 period, a record for an Irish rally driver at the time of his death, and had three wins in the Manx National Rally (1987, 1989, 1992). In 1991 he was initially declared winner of the Manx International Rally but afterwards lost the title on a protest. His last competitive rally appearance was in the Monaghan MC Stages Rally in 2000.
Fisher was regarded as an extremely fair but committed competitor, who was rigorous about safety and concerned about the welfare of competitors and spectators, often working as a safety steward on events in which he was not competing. In 1986 he retired from competition for nearly fifteen months after an incident in the Galway Rally when his brakes failed at a junction and he narrowly missed spectators standing behind some tape. This incident, together with a fatal accident on the Circuit of Ireland the same year, led to a two-month ban on rallying in Ireland and ultimately to a greater emphasis on safety in the sport. His own driving was characterised by courage and control of the car, and his ability to get the maximum out of his machine on the closed road stages made him popular with rally enthusiasts. Although most top rally cars in Ireland and Britain are left-hand-drive, Fisher was unusual in that he preferred a right-hand-drive model. In addition, his friendly personality and his willingness to impart advice and help made him a very popular figure with his fellow competitors and a great ambassador for the sport. Although pressure of business had curtailed his appearances in competitive driving and he had only participated in one event in 1999 and 2000, he had bought a new car to enable him to participate in events in 2001. His last public appearance in a rally car is believed to be a demonstration run in a Peugeot Group B 205 T16 at the Millennium Motorsport Festival at Stormont, Belfast, in August 2000.
As well as being a well known and popular figure in the world of motor sport, Fisher was also one of Northern Ireland's most successful businessmen. He helped to develop the family company, Fisher Engineering Ltd, of which he was the managing director, from being a small welding and forging company making gates and farm implements to one of the biggest steel construction companies in Britain and Ireland, involved in construction projects such as Belfast's Odyssey Arena and Waterfront Hall and employing upwards of 180 people, mostly in the Ballinamallard area of Fermanagh. His commitment to his locality made him a very popular figure in Co. Fermanagh. His work and rallying left him little time for other hobbies, but he did occasionally fish and play golf, and at one time he played trombone with the Ballinamallard Silver Band. He married Gladys; they had two sons and one daughter. On 21 January 2001 a helicopter he was piloting crashed in poor weather at Monea, near his home, as he and his family were returning from a trip to the west of Ireland to celebrate his wife's fiftieth birthday. His son Mark (b. 1974), a highly promising rally driver who was widely tipped to be a future World Rally Championship competitor, and his daughter Emma (b. 1976) were both killed in the crash, and Fisher himself died in Erne Hospital, Enniskillen, the following day (22 January 2001) as a result of injuries sustained. His wife and his other son, Roy, survived. He is buried alongside his son and daughter at Craghan cemetery, near Ballinamallard.