INSPIRATIONAL war hero Ben Parkinson was mobbed by a crowd of thousands as he walked tall today on his bionic prosthetic legs to carry the Olympic Torch, writes Graham Walker.
Ben, the British paratrooper who lost both his legs in a Taliban blast in Afghanistan, is one of the most seriously wounded soldiers to survive the war in Afghanistan.
But he was determined to step out of his wheelchair and walk the 300 meters to carry the flame in his home town of Doncaster,
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our special video report of Ben walking with the Olympic flame.
Emotional well-wishers, scores deep, turned out to cheer him on including 50 of his comrades from Seven Para Royal Horse Artillery, in what was a tear-jerking golden moment of the flame relay.
Police escorts said they had not seen anything quite like it, anywhere else in the country.
Lance Bombardier Parkinson, aged 28, who also suffered brain and back injuries in a bomb attack in 2006, completed his Bennetthorpe stint of the relay in around 26 minutes.
Afterwards he said he felt like: “A million pounds”.
He said: “I’m so proud. I didn’t realise how much support I had. I was amazed. I felt nothing. All these people helped me along.”
Mum Diane Dernie and step-dad Andrew were with him every step of the way. His mum said he had been practising his route every day and was “unbelievably excited” to be carrying the torch in Doncaster.
The relay started out the day in Sheffield, before moving to Rotherham and Doncaster. It will return briefly to the region, when it makes an appearance at Chatsworth on Friday.
* For more on this and coverage of other Olympic Torch stories in South Yorkshire see The Star on Wednesday, June 27, 2012.