Hero Ben’s pride in poppy appeal

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HE’S probably the most recognisable poppy seller in South Yorkshire...

War hero Ben Parkinson, aged 27, met shoppers at Asda on Bawtry Road in Doncaster to help boost sales of poppies for Remembrance Sunday.

Lance Bombardier Parkinson’s mum, Diane Dernie, said being a part of the poppy appeal is extremely important to the former soldier.

“For Ben it isn’t about the money he raises,” she said.

“It’s more about selling the poppies and getting as many people as possible to wear them, and it’s about sending a message about how important it is to remember all the people who have sacrificed their lives for our country.”

Diane, from Bessacarr in Doncaster, said Remembrance Day was always a difficult time of year for the family, mourning the loss of soldiers who have been killed at the same time as celebrating Ben’s survival.

As well as selling poppies, Ben visited Carcroft Primary School in Doncaster yesterday to give an assembly on commemorating soldiers who have died serving the country. He fitted the visit in alongside his ongoing programme of rehabilitation.

He will also lay a wreath at the war memorial on Bennetthorpe, Doncaster, tomorrow.

Ben has become the best-known former soldier in the borough since losing both legs and suffering a catalogue of almost 40 other devastating injuries including brain damage in a Taliban blast in Helmand Province in Afghanistan in 2006.

He spent three months unconscious in a military hospital, but has battled back to walk unaided on prosthetic legs, and has amazed doctors by learning to speak again. In June he carried the Olympic torch through Doncaster - an achievement his mum described as the ‘proudest moment’ of her life.

n The harsh realities of modern-day conflict: Pages 8-9