Wounded soldier set for torch relay

Western Telegraph: Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson will carry the Olympic Torch in his home town of Doncaster Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson will carry the Olympic Torch in his home town of Doncaster

The most seriously wounded soldier to survive the war in Afghanistan will carry the Olympic Torch in his home town as it enters day 39 of its tour around Britain and Ireland.

Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson has been practising walking the 300-metre stretch from the Cenotaph, in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, on his prosthetic limbs without using crutches. The 27-year-old paratrooper lost both legs and suffered brain and back injuries in a bomb attack in 2006.

L/Bdr Parkinson's mother, Diane Dernie, said her son had been practising his route every day and was "unbelievably excited" to be carrying the torch in his home town.

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 of the route he's got. He's been practising it every day, day in day out, and it's all going brilliantly."

Ms Dernie said her son was determined to complete the relay on his prosthetic limbs and not rely on a wheelchair.

"The whole purpose of this was to show everyone what he can do and he wants to do it on his legs," she said. "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.

"The focus of everyone coming together: his regiment is coming, his charity is coming, his friends are coming. People are coming from Land's End to John O'Groats to watch him."

The relay will arrive in Doncaster after beginning the day in Sheffield and travelling through Rotherham, where the torch will visit the Magna Science Adventure Centre.

It will then leave South Yorkshire and enter North and North East Lincolnshire, visiting Scunthorpe before heading to Grimsby and Cleethorpes. The torch will travel on the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway ahead of the evening event at the Meridian Park Showground.

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