Hero Ben Parkinson an inspiration to Doncaster Rovers football stars

Training session: Injured paratrooper Ben Parkinson with members of the Doncaster Rovers squad during a visit before the start of the season. '''                                  Picture: Star Photographer.
Training session: Injured paratrooper Ben Parkinson with members of the Doncaster Rovers squad during a visit before the start of the season. ''' Picture: Star Photographer.
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THE secret to Doncaster Rovers’ great start to the season is out - they’ve brought in war hero Ben Parkinson to inspire them in training!

Ben, who lost both legs and suffered a host of other injuries including brain damage when he was wounded by a Taliban bomb in Afghanistan, was brought in to the club’s session in the run-up to the start of the season.

The club then went on to win its first two matches.

A club spokesman said: “Ben was invited up to the training ground to meet Dean and the playing squad.

“The players were amazed by Ben’s determination and spirit plus his great sense of humour.

“He explained that he was not usually only 4ft 3ins but 6ft 4ins, depending on which legs he wore.”

Now Ben has been invited to walk onto the pitch with Rovers boss Dean Saunders before a match - and to take the ball onto the centre circle.

Ben is due to get a new set of artificial legs soon to make walking easier for him.

The club has given Ben and his stepfather, Andrew Dernie, free season tickets for the club, after he decided he was unlikely to be able to attend enough matches to continue with the season tickets that he and Mr Dernie have held for the last three years.

Ben is unable to attend all home games because of his work for charities including the Pilgrim Bandits which he helped to set up with other injured servicemen.

His mum Diane Dernie said he would be attending his first Rovers game of the season today.

She said: “Ben is absolutely delighted by the great start to the season Rovers have had. He has a deal with Dean Saunders that if Rovers win promotion they will walk together to the centre circle.”

Stepdad Mr Dernie added: “If they work as hard as Ben has done, they should do really well.”

Ben hit the headlines earlier this year when he walked 300 metres on his artificial legs along Bennetthorpe, carrying the Olympic torch as part of the national torch relay.

Huge crowds cheered him on his way.