Brave soldier's torch of courage
It was only 300 metres but for Ben Parkinson, the most seriously wounded soldier to survive the war in Afghanistan, it must have seemed like a marathon.
Lance Bombardier Parkinson, who lost both legs and suffered brain and back injuries in a bomb attack in 2006, carried the Olympic Torch in his home town as thousands cheered and applauded his courage in some of the most emotional scenes of the torch relay to date.
The 27-year-old soldier was determined to walk the distance from Doncaster's Cenotaph on his prosthetic limbs without crutches.
L/Bdr Parkinson's mother Diane Dernie said her son had practised his route every day. Ms Dernie said: "It's been such a spur for him, he's had to work so hard. He's had this practice torch made and he's been pounding the streets.
"He's doing brilliantly. Even a few months ago we didn't know if he'd be able to do it without crutches but he's cracked it and he's been doing about 500 metres up and down the area. It's so important to Ben because this is his chance to prove what he can do, to thank everybody in Doncaster because he's had such fantastic support locally."
L/Bdr Parkinson was mobbed by well-wishers when he passed on the torch after his 300m leg. The paratrooper took about 26 minutes to complete the route along Bennetthorpe, in the town, and every step he took was cheered by crowds ten deep.
After he got back in his wheelchair he said: "I am so proud. I didn't realise how much support I had. I was amazed."
Speaking after, his mother said: "He knew he could do it. So many people told him he couldn't do it, but he was not having that. We knew he'd do it. This town has been such a wonderful place for Ben. I'm just so proud of everybody. Whatever he does, Doncaster's behind him."
The paratrooper lost both legs and suffered brain and back injuries in a bomb attack in 2006.
The soldiers from L/Bdr Parkinson's unit arrived from their base in Colchester, Essex, to cheers from the crowds. Major Dave Walker said: "I think anyone here would have crawled over broken glass, quite frankly, to come and show Ben our support."