Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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War hero Ben overcomes yet another mountain

BRITAIN’S “most injured soldier”, Ben Parkinson, continues to move mountains 15 years on from being told he wouldn’t survive.

The former British Paratrooper, accompanied by ex-firefighter John Chart, who has lost the use of his arms due to motor neurone disease, and police officer Laurence East, who has stage four cancer, scaled Pen y Fan, the highest peak in southern Wales.

Ben, 37, said: “It’s been 15 years, when people didn’t think I would even survive 15 days. I’ll never stop doing things that people say are impossible.”

Ben lost both legs and suffered brain damage while serving in Afghanistan in 2006. He was not expected to survive, let alone speak or walk again. But his determination and tenacity continues to defy the odds.

Over the years, he has taken part in many expeditions organised by Pilgrim Bandits – a military charity that supports injured and amputee veterans by inviting them to take part in physically demanding expeditions that push them to their limits, helping them to enjoy life again and see just what they are capable of.

The Pen y Fan climb was organised for members of the Curtis Palmer Program, a branch of the Pilgrim Bandits charity that supports emergency services personnel who have also suffered life-changing injuries or are living with mental health conditions, such as PTSD and anxiety as a result of the trauma they have faced on duty.

Thames Valley Police Inspector Damien Isherwood, who heads up the project, said: “Ben climbed Pen y Fan prior to his injuries, but hadn’t since and we knew this challenge meant a lot to him – as it did to all those taking part.

“It was all about teamwork. All those taking part had their own mountain to climb as well as the actual mountain – and we believe that a big part of their healing process is in helping others.”

Previously, Ben became the first double amputee to cross the Hardanger Plateau in Norway and one of the few to conquer the mighty Yukon River in Canada.

More recently, he took on the charity’s Winter Survival Course in Sweden, trekking across inhospitable terrain and sleeping in snow holes at minus 20 degrees – and completed a 1,000-mile bike ride across the country with 10 other amputee veterans, in support of John Chart, who had set himself the mammoth challenge after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

Matt Hellyer, CEO of Pilgrim Bandits, said: “The charity’s motto is ‘Always A Little Further,’ because we know that pushing injured veterans and emergency service personnel physically and mentally – when they have already endured so much – sees them rise above and beyond.

“We don’t do sympathy, but we offer camaraderie, an adventure and we believe in the power of humour over pain. It is that mentality that helps the veterans and emergency service personnel we work with to keep pushing forward, not only in the challenges we set them, but in their day to day lives.”




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