South Yorkshire’s Brave Ben’s good result

Health fight: Ben Parkinson
Health fight: Ben Parkinson
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The day started with injured soldier Ben Parkinson’s dream of carrying the Olympic torch being snuffed out.

But the South Yorkshire war veteran went to bed last night happy that he will be holding the flame aloft in his home town of Doncaster next Tuesday after all.

Ben, who lost both legs in a land mine blast while serving in Afghanistan in 2006, has fought long and hard for his few minutes in the limelight but all his dreams were dashed when the location of his torch relay stage was changed.

Since being selected for the event earlier this year his family in Bessacarr had been led to believe he would be carrying a torch for 200m along Bennetthorpe, a level stretch of road near the town centre which is also close to Doncaster’s war memorial.

But when his mum contacted Locog on Monday to check when his outfit would be arriving she was told his stage would be on Balby Bridge, near a flyover.

That would have meant Ben having to struggle up and down a sloping road on his prosthetic legs which his mum and step-dad realised would be impossible because of the gradient.

Mum Diane Dernie said he would be unable to walk on the route using artificial legs without the aid of crutches and she raised the issue with Doncaster Council, which is managing the route through the borough from Conisbrough to Hatfield.

Pressure quickly mounted on Locog with council chief executive Jo Miller tweeting her support and Doncaster’s elected mayor Peter Davies also siding with Ben’s family.

Mrs Dernie said: “We know that Ben has got no right any more than anyone else, but if they could just know how hard he has worked for this. The section they gave him couldn’t have been worse.

“For Ben it’s not just a matter of turning up and running. He’s worked for this ever since he was nominated.”

Locog suggestion that he use a wheelchair was rejected by Ben, but by 1pm yesterday the matter was resolved in his favour.

Mrs Dernie said: “They contacted us and said he will be on Bennetthorpe and it would appear they had no idea about his special needs. Ben says he knew all along it was going to be OK and he can’t wait.

“We are very grateful for the support from everyone today, which is typical of what we’ve had since Ben came home and it’s because of that he wants to do this for Doncaster. It would have been tragic to take it away from him.”