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Injured soldier Ben Parkinson starts 1,000-mile cycle ride

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image copyrightArlene Chart
image captionL/Bombardier Ben Parkinson said he had waited "too long" for the challenge

A former soldier who suffered brain damage and lost both legs in a blast in Afghanistan has set off on a 1,000-mile charity cycle ride.

L/Bombardier Ben Parkinson, from Doncaster, has joined nine other amputee veterans to pedal from John O' Groats to Land's End over 13 days.

The team is raising funds for a charity that helps injured soldiers and awareness about Motor Neurone Disease.

L/Bdr Parkinson said he had waited "too long" for the challenge.

image copyrightArlene Chart
image captionTen veterans and a number of firefighters are expected to complete the ride

The 36-year-old has teamed up with fellow amputees from Birmingham, Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, London, Plymouth and Stoke-on-Trent, as well as a number of firefighters for the charitable expedition, which began at 08:00 BST.

They are raising funds for Pilgrim Bandits, a charity for injured servicemen, and to help support one of its members, 49-year-old John Chart, a veteran and former firefighter who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in July 2019.

L/Bdr Parkinson, who is riding a tandem with teammate Matt Hellyer, said he had been training "very hard" for the challenge.

image copyrightArlene Chart
image captionSpecially adapted bikes are being used in the challenge

He said he was enjoying it and described it as being "a walk in the park" in comparison to his previous feats.

"It's been a long time in lockdown and I haven't seen anybody for months.

"There's always someone struggling and now it's my chance to support John to get him on his way."

Mr Chart, from Beckenham, who is cycling with the team, said: "Motor Neurone Disease is a demonic disease.

"It is like an assassin, it sneaks up on you and it's like someone's got a remote control and it's just closing my body down gradually."

He added: "You've got to keep going. Don't ever give up."

image copyrightArlene Chart
image captionJohn Chart was diagnosed with MND last year

L/Bdr Parkinson was two weeks from finishing a tour of Afghanistan when the vehicle he was in hit a mine.

As well as brain damage that affected his memory and speech, he broke his pelvis and his back in four places, shattered his arm and chest.

He has taken part in several long-distance challenges and also carried the 2012 Olympic flame through Doncaster.

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Related Topics

  • Doncaster
  • Motor neurone disease
  • Cycling
  • Disability
  • British Army

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