Ben hopes for Olympic flame fame

Games hope: Wounded Ben Parkinson, pictured with mum Diane Dernie, has been nominated as a carrier for the London Olympic torch.
Games hope: Wounded Ben Parkinson, pictured with mum Diane Dernie, has been nominated as a carrier for the London Olympic torch.

The family of wounded war hero Ben Parkinson are keeping their fingers crossed that his name will be drawn out of a hat to carry the Olympic flame next summer.

His friends have entered him into the draw to be one of the people who carry the legendary Olympic torch for a mile on its journey through Britain to London for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, who lives in Bessacarr with his mum and stepdad, is already working hard on a new rehabilitation programme in a bid to walk again after losing both his legs and suffering head injuries in a roadside bomb explosion in Afghanistan in 2006.

As part of his rehabilitation at a boxing gym in Kirk Sandall, the 27-year-old is learning how to walk using artificial legs.

As a result, his friends have entered his name into the ballot to be an Olympic torch bearer for London 2012.

If chosen, he will be given the opportunity to carry the Olympic flame for one of the relay sections of the Olympic Torch Relay.

His mother Diane Dernie said: “We’re hopeful, because Ben would absolutely love it.

“We understand Ben has the same chance as anybody else who’s nominated and we’ve been told we should find out this Wednesday if he’s been successful.

“His name was put forward by a few of his friends, people he talks to on Facebook and his solicitor.

“He knows how important it is and it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Ben. He doesn’t need any encouragement to work hard for it.

“He will be disappointed if he isn’t selected but he knows he’s got the same chance as everyone else and it’s purely the luck of the draw.”

She said if chosen she thought he would be allowed to carry the torch over a shorter distance, most probably in Yorkshire, than the usual one mile for torch bearers.

“He’s already working out four days a week so he’ll be able to carry the torch,” said Mrs Dernie.

“He can walk about 50 yards with crutches and it’s got immeasurably better in the last few weeks.

“He’s got a year until the Olympics so he’d be fine by then.”

Other maimed soldiers, including Para Tom Neathway, ex-Royal Marine Mark Ormrod and Derek Derenalagi have also been nominated and hope to be among the first names announced on Wednesday.

Col Stuart Tootal, who commanded the Paras in Helmand in 2006, said: “A significant number of wounded servicemen carrying the torch at some stage would highlight what they have sacrificed in serving their country.”

The 70-day Olympic flame relay will tour Britain from May 18 to July 27 until it arrives in London, with the 8,000 torch bearers being chosen by a combination of judging panels and random selection.