FEW people know more about the consequences of conflict.
Paratrooper Ben Parkinson lost both legs and suffered brain injuries in war-torn Afghanistan.
He had major surgery on his shattered spine and needed prosthetic legs fitted after the vehicle in which he was travelling drove over a land mine.
Brave Ben, from Doncaster, then spent three months unconscious in a military hospital.
Today he is recognised as the most severely wounded soldier to survive the fighting in Afghanistan.
So conflict is something he knows about all too well.
But despite everything Ben remains a beacon of hope to others, a real inspiration.
And now he has a new set of admirers – the staff and children at Charnock Hall Primary School.
Ben visited the Sheffield school to meet some of the pupils who work as peer mediators. It’s their job to step in and stop minor conflicts in the playground before they become anything more serious.
As a reward, each mediator was presented with a prize – and teaching assistants Jane Ford and Jayne Jenkinson asked Ben to do the honours.
Jane said: “We invited Ben to present certificates and talk to the children about conflict.
“We were delighted when he said he was happy to do so.
“He was wonderful and everyone loved it. I think he enjoyed the experience as much as the children did.”
Headteacher Sarah Scarborough said it had been a very exciting occasion for everyone at the school.
She said: “Ben’s visit was inspirational. He spoke to the children about conflict and how it affects lives. He then presented the peer mediators with their certificates and chatted to them about all sorts.
“They were particularly intrigued to hear Ben’s favourite pastime is sky-diving, and he proved he had a really good sense of humour which we all appreciated.”