- Ben Parkinson was born on 31 March 1984 in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. He has a twin
brother, Danny. Since the age of 4 he wanted to join the Army and as long as he remembers he wanted to join the Parachute Regiment.
At the age of 16 Parkinson joined the Army and was accepted into Harrogate Foundation College. He was taller than most of the other boys, almost 2 metres, and was known as “The Big Unit”. He joined the Parachute Regiment and serves with F Battery, 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse
Artillery (7 Para RHA).
On 19 march 2003 7 Para RHA fired the first shots of the Iraq War by any
coalition ground forces. The next day they crossed the border in support
of the US 1 Marine Expeditionary Force. Parkinson was in the first British vehicle across the border.
- In the winter of 2005/2005 he served in Kosovo with I Battery.
Parkinson was send to Afghanistan in 2006, with G Battery (or I Battery). He was badly wounded when the Land Rover
(WMIK) he was travelling hit a landmine in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan,
to the east of Musa Qaleh, on 11 or 12 september 2006. He suffered more than 40 wounds and was given little chance to survive.
Two other gunners were also wounded. Parkinson's life was saved by Lance
Bombardier Daniel Byrne, the team medic, who received the Queen's
Commendation for Bravery for his actions in Afghanistan in 2013. He
walked through the minefield to help Parkinson and the other wounded,
'with complete disregard for his own safety'. According to the citation
'Lance Bombardier Byrnes gallant, selfless and skilled actions made a
significant contribution to saving the life of Lance Bombardier
- Parkinson was brought back home to his family and was in a coma for more than three months. After waking from the coma the doctors thought any recovery he made would be small, but Parkinson made an amazing recovery and learned to walk again.
On 26 june 2012 Parkinson carried the Olympic torch through his home town of Doncaster.
Parkinson was awarded the MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) on 17 May 2013 for the courageous way he fought to rebuild his life. He received the honour from the Prince of Wales at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
In september 2015 Parkinson joined other injured veterans by kayaking down the Yukon River in Canada with the Pilgrim Bandits, a charity of which Parkinson is one of the patrons. In february and march 2017 Parkinson joined the Pilgrim Bandits on an expedition to Norway.