Doncaster war hero Ben Parkinson in charity expedition

Doncaster war hero Ben Parkinson braved temperatures below -40°C in his latest high-profile expedition.

Tuesday, 28th March 2017, 11:38 am
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 9:13 pm
Ben Parkinson, right, on a skidoo in the Arctic with Steve Beard, the chief executive of Pilgrim Bandits

Ben was one of seven injured servicemen and veterans of the armed forces who travelled to Spitsbergen in the Arctic Circle with the charity Pilgrim Bandits.

Spitsbergen is the largest and only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago in northern Norway. 

During a week’s expedition, code-named Operation Polar Bear, the team, which included the mission support crew from the Pilgrim Bandits charity, travelled over 250miles in icy temperatures.

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Ben went on the expedition with other former soldiers as a patron and fundraiser with the charity.

As the most westerly of a chain of islands, it borders the Arctic Ocean, the Norwegian Sea and the Greenland Sea.

Spitsbergen is the largest island in Norway and was used for whaling in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Svalbard Treaty of 1920 recognised Norwegian sovereignty and established Svalbard as both a free economic  and a demilitarised zone.

The island has an arctic climate and is a breeding ground for many seabirds and marine mammals as well as a feeding ground for polar bears.

A spokesman for Pilgrim Bandits said: “The idea of the expedition was to work in an extreme setting and to share the beauty of that environment.

“The sighting of a polar bear in our camp and seeing the Northern Lights added to the overall success of the expedition.

“The guys are now among only three per cent of the people who visit Svalbard to actually see a wild polar bear.”

Ben was seriously injured in Aghanistan, losing both legs and suffering brain damage. He was told he would never walk or speak again but has defied doctors to do both.

He is due to receive the Freedom of Doncaster for his charity work.