Injured paratrooper Ben Parkinson backs VE Day bunting campaign

INSPIRATIONAL paratrooper Ben Parkinson, the most severely injured UK serviceman to survive the Afghanistan conflict, is encouraging people to fly the flag for the “brave men and women” of the Second World War this VE Day.

Lance Bombardier Parkinson, of Bessacarr in Doncaster, lost both legs and suffered brain damage when the armoured Land Rover he was travelling in hit a mine in Helmand Province in September 2006.

He was not expected to survive, but he did. He was told he would never walk or speak again but again, he did, defying doctors.

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He has since taken on a raft of charity challenges, raising hundreds of thousands of pounds, including a 90-mile kayak in France, a trek through the Arctic, and cycling across New Zealand, and was awarded an MBE in 2015.

Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson. Picture: Scott Merrylees
Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson. Picture: Scott Merrylees

Lance Bombardier Parkinson is backing an initiative by the BBC to encourage people to make special ‘Great British Bunting’ to display in their windows at home to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day when the guns fell silent at the end of war in Europe.

The majority of events and street parties arranged to mark the event, on May 8, have had to be cancelled or postponed due to coronavirus restrictions.

In a video posted online by the BBC, Lance Bombardier Parkinson said: “We can’t have all the big celebrations, but we should never forget the brave men and women of World War Two.

“So I want you to join me and make great British bunting.”

Ben Parkinson with bunting he's created. Picture: BBC

Showing bunting he has created, he says: “If I can do this, anyone can.”

A bunting template pack can be downloaded online at www.bbc.co.uk/makeadifference. Everyone is asked to show off their bunting displays on social media using the hashtags #GreatBritishBunting and #VEDay75

Director of BBC England Helen Thomas said: “Although people can’t celebrate in the way they had perhaps hoped to, we can still brighten up the streets with this special initiative in tribute to our VE Day heroes.”

Sir Andrew Gregory, CEO of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity said: “The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced the Nation to isolate and socially distance, though ironically that has brought communities closer together and with a ‘war time’ spirit of defeating a common enemy, something that has not really been experienced since the Second World War.

“Thus, it is wholly fitting that VE Day 75 falls at a time when we are again proud of those who serve our Nation, in whatever capacity. Everybody should take a moment to honour those who fought during World War II for the freedoms that we enjoy today. And we should celebrate and be proud of the fact that their sense of service and sacrifice continues on in our present society.”