Olympic torch relay: Injured soldier walks with flame
- 26 June 2012
- From the section UK
Ben Parkinson, a Paratrooper who was injured in Afghanistan in 2006 and lost both legs below the knee, has walked with the torch through Doncaster.
He also broke his pelvis, his back in four places, shattered his arm and chest, as well as sustaining a massive brain injury in the bomb attack.
Flanked by hundreds of people, he walked for nearly half an hour with an assistant who supported his arm.
Day 39 of the torch relay began in Sheffield and ended in Cleethorpes .
Lance Bombardier Parkinson's nomination stated: "The brain injury took his speech, but not his personality and sense of humour," adding he now speaks unaided.
It said: "Determined to prove everyone wrong, he fought back every step of the way. Ben's intelligence and wit [are] unchanged. Still the same funny and caring Ben."
He spends 12 hours a day in the gym and rehab and walks with crutches, spending "the rest of his time spent raising money for many military charities and as patron of his beloved Pilgrim Bandits ".
Major David Walker, his commanding officer, said he was in "absolute awe" of his colleague.
"I'm just about managing to keep it together," Major Walker told the BBC. "Ben's tenacity and sheer courage and determination is absolutely amazing."
A total of 130 torchbearers took part in the 39th day of the relay, covering 77 miles in generally good weather.
Doncaster Council said about 80,000 people turned out to see the torch in the town.
The first torchbearer of the day was Lucy Brunt, 13, from Sheffield, who completed a lap of the Don Valley Stadium running track to start the relay.
Ms Brunt was nominated to run at the athletics stadium for her courage and determination in coping with Down's Syndrome.
Poet and storyteller Debjani Chatterjee carried the flame into the Magna Science and Adventure Centre in Rotherham, which included a spark-filled visit to the Fire Pavilion.
The centre was opened in 2001 and was built on the site of the Templeborough Steelworks, which was once the largest in the world.
Just before the end of the relay the flame was taken on a brief trip on the Cleethorpes Light Railway before the final part of the day's journey was undertaken by 92-year-old World War II veteran Jack Andrew, from Sheffield.
He was nominated for his passion for sport, which has driven him to coach local football and cricket teams and continue to play golf despite having both knees replaced.
Other torchbearers on the day included James Needham, 28, an England wheelchair rugby gold medallist who teaches wheelchair skills to newly injured people.
In Rotherham, Chloe Birch, 16, carried the flame. She has been playing badminton since she was eight and has been representing England since she was 11.
Former footballer and TV pundit Chris Kamara carried the flame in Doncaster.
Throughout the day the flame travelled through Rotherham, Dalton, Thrybergh, Conisbrough, Warmsworth, Doncaster, Armthorpe, Dunsville, Hatfield, Scunthorpe, Brigg, Wrawby, Immingham and Grimsby before arriving in Cleethorpes.
The evening celebration in Meridian Park, which got under way at 17:00 BST, was to feature a community street dance performance and a showcase of music from the East Coast Elite Brass and Percussion Corps , which is based in Grimsby.
London-based band Tribes and dance act Twist & Pulse were also due to perform.
A total of 8,000 people will carry the flame during its 8,000 mile, 70-day journey to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London on 27 July.