South Yorkshire school children hold a torch for brave Ben Parkinson

Flame: Paratrooper Ben Parkinson holds aloft the Olympic torch, surrounded by children at Waverley Primary School. PICTURE: DEAN ATKINS.
Flame: Paratrooper Ben Parkinson holds aloft the Olympic torch, surrounded by children at Waverley Primary School. PICTURE: DEAN ATKINS.
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WOUNDED South Yorkshire war hero Ben Parkinson has been inundated with requests from schools to come and visit them.

Since he beat his injuries to walk a stretch of the Olympic torch relay last month, around 80 schools have so far approached him to speak to their pupils.

Thousands turned up to watch Ben’s section of the relay, with crowds chanting his name as he walked on his false legs.

Ben, from, Bessacarr, Doncaster, was blown up in 2006 while serving in Afghanistan, suffering injuries including brain and spinal damage.

But so far he has been out on 16 community visits, and plans to visit more when the schools start again in September.

Mum Diane Dernie said: “He has not been able to fit them all in, because he has to fit things around his rehabilitation - and he has also done a charity motorbike ride from Inverness to Plymouth on a World War Two motorbike. He and another double amputee were in sidecars, with two single amputees riding the motorbikes.

“But Ben has been loving going into the schools with the torch. That’s what it is for, and it means children that could not see it before get to see it and to hold it.”

Ben has done question and answer sessions with the pupils, and Mrs Dernie said they asked some interesting questions, ranging from whether it hurt when he got blown up by a Taliban bomb, to whether he would like to go back to Afghanistan to get his own back on the people who planted the bomb.

His visits will come to an end this week as the schools are breaking up, but he plans to go back to more schools at the start of the next term when the Olympics will have already have happened.

Ben, aged 27, is the most seriously wounded serviceman to survive his injuries, suffered while serving with 7 Para Royal Horse Artillery.