Opinion: An inspiration to us all

Malcolm Smith is pictured with Ben Parkinson at Scarborough's Armed Forces Day.
Malcolm Smith is pictured with Ben Parkinson at Scarborough's Armed Forces Day.

I mentioned in a previous column that whatever our political views, of one thing we can be certain, 2017 is going to be a very interesting year. With all the recent upsets, terrorist attacks, the awful fire in London and the great political uncertainty that now exists we could be forgiven for feeling a wee bit gloomy and that’s without even mentioning Brexit.

But occasionally we meet a person who is so inspirational that it makes us stop and take stock of everything we feel gloomy about, a person who puts any of our minor troubles to shame. Like so many people in Scarborough, my wife and I always go to the sea front to support Armed Forces Day, a day to say thank you to the men and women who fight to keep our way of life and us ordinary citizens safe.

There are many stalls supporting charities for ex-service personnel and all of them are worthy of our support but one in particular touched us deeply. There was a stall supporting service personnel who had lost limbs whilst in conflict, a dreadful outcome for young people who were extremely fit until an event which leaves them terribly injured and disabled for life.

And on this stall, doing his bit for this most worthwhile of causes was Ben Parkinson, a man who received the most grievous injuries ever and was able to survive. He could have been forgiven if he had allowed nature to take its course and slowly sank into oblivion but he fought back with an amount of courage and determination that is awesome to behold.

Suffering the loss of both legs and being brain damaged, he has fought and fought to get as much of his life back as possible, and never losing his sense of humour or his pride in his old regiment.

And on this special day he was there doing all he could to support all who had received injuries which resulted in amputation. Older people often say they don’t make ’em like they used to! Well, Ben is the answer to that and I was humbled to shake his hand. To all our lads and lasses who have received life changing injuries whilst doing their duty a heartfelt thank you and God bless each and every one of you.