Heroes in town for Tribute to the Boys

War hero Ben Parkinson MBE
War hero Ben Parkinson MBE

They are three of the most recognisable faces of global conflict and each with a terrible tale to tale.

But a trio of Britain’s most badly wounded servicemen who defied adversity to battle back will join forces in South Yorkshire next month for a fundraising night to boost their respective charities.

Collect photos of Ben Parkinson who has been seriously injured in a land mine explosion in Afganistan serving with 7 Para...Ben in Afganistan

Collect photos of Ben Parkinson who has been seriously injured in a land mine explosion in Afganistan serving with 7 Para...Ben in Afganistan

Doncaster-born Afghanistan veteran Ben Parkinson will be joined by Falklands hero Simon Weston and Iraq War survivor Simon Brown for the Tribute To The Boys night at Doncaster Racecourse on July 23.

Ben, aged 30, is Britain’s most injured surviving soldier after the Land Rover he was in hit a mine in Afghanistan eight years ago.

The event will help raise cash for his Pilgrim Bandits charity which supports men and women injured in action.

Falkland vet Simon Weston will be attending to raise money for the Falklands Veterans’ Foundation of which he is patron.

Iraq veteran Simon Brown.

Iraq veteran Simon Brown.

The charity was the first in the UK to support Falkland veterans and their immediate family.

Soldier Simon Brown who was injured in 2006 when repairing an army vehicle under attack in Iraq will also join his comrades.

He will be raising money on the evening for Blind Veterans UK which is dedicated to helping war veterans who have lost their sight.

Kieran Gallagher, executive director at Doncaster Racecourse, said: “The Tribute to our Boys evening is set to be an absolutely fantastic event.

“We are looking forward to having all three veterans here at the racecourse to raise awareness and money for these extremely important causes whilst experiencing a great evening of racing and dining. I know that with such a great cause to support, tickets will sell out fast so I advise people to book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.”

Guests have the option to purchase two different ticket packages.

The Heroes Package at £99 includes a champagne reception and three-course meal with the veterans, followed by thought-provoking after-dinner speeches. The evening will finish with an exclusive charity auction to give guests the chance to win some incredible prizes whilst raising money for the charities.

The second package is the meet and greet at £40 and features County Enclosure admission including a meet and greet with the veterans.

Simon Weston before his injuries.

Simon Weston before his injuries.

* Tickets are available at Doncaster Racecourse or call 01302 304200.

Ben Parkinson’s story

Doncaster’ s Ben Parkinson needs little in the way of introduction, but his story is one that must never be forgotten.

Britain’s most injured surviving soldier was left in a coma for four months and lost both legs after a Taliban bomb blast in Helmand Province Afghanistan in 2006.

Suffering 40 separate injuries which included breaking his back, hips and ribs and suffering brain damage when his Land Rover hit a mine, the outlook was bleak but Ben has defied medics, learning to walk and talk again and battling back to become a much-loved national treasure.

Lance Bombadier Ben , of Bessacarr,can now walk nearly two miles per day, can take steps unaided and has taken part in a series of charity challenges across the globe.

Simon Weston

Simon Weston

However, his defining moment came in 2012 when he made headlines around the globe, carrying the Olympic torch through the centre of Doncaster, cheered on by crowds of more than 30,000 people for one of the most moving moments of the relay.

It earned him the MBE and Ben continues to be a familiar face in and around Doncaster, regularly called on by charities and organisations as a special guest and visiting local schools to help spread the word about his battle back from the brink and drawing awareness to his Pilgrim Bandits charity.

Simon Weston’s story

In 1982 during the Falkands War, warship the Sir Galahad was destroyed in Bluff Cove after being bombed by Argentine fighter jets. Among those on board was Simon Weston, a Welsh Guardsman, a name that was going to become well known for his struggle to overcome his injuries.

Suffering 46 per cent burns in the raging inferno which claimed the lives of 48 colleagues, he endured years of reconstructive surgery, including 70 major operations or surgical procedures.

Today Simon takes the opportunity to convey his story in order to motivate and encourage those, who like him, want to move on to the next goal, whatever it may be.

Following his injuries, Simon’s road to physical, spiritual and mental recovery saw him active in a number of highly successful ventures, his tireless charity work earning him an OBE in the 1992 Queen’s Birthday Honours. He was also awarded Freedom of the City of Liverpool in 2002 in recognition of charity work in the region.

He has appeared in the Top 100 Merseysiders list in 2003 and honoured as one of the top 100 Welsh Heroes in 2004.

Simon’s story has been well publicised and he has been the subject of five major BBC Television documentaries – Simon’s War, Simon’s Peace, Simon’s Triumph, Simon’s Return and in April 1999, Simon’s Journey.

He has featured on This is Your Life and his autobiography, Walking Tall, was a number one bestseller.

In 2014 he topped a poll to find the Nation’s Favourite Hero. 

Simon Brown’s Story

Simon was serving as a corporal in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in Iraq in 2006 when he sustained facial injuries during a rescue mission in Basra.

Simon, who hails from Morley in West Yorkshire, lost his left eye and has only 20 per cent vision in his right.

On the day of his injury, Simon had successfully rescued six of his colleagues whose vehicle had broken down in the war torn country.

As he was withdrawing from the area, he was hit by sniper fire.

A bullet entered his left cheek and exited through his right cheek, shattering both cheekbones, destroying his left eye and severely damaging his right eye.

Simon’s colleagues rushed him to emergency treatment at nearby Basra Palace, where he was given a life-saving tracheotomy to let him breathe.

Then he was airlifted by helicopter to the base hospital where he had the first of many operations to rebuild his shattered face.

His cheekbones and nose were reconstructed using titanium, his jaw broken and remoulded and a prosthetic eye fitted.

He has undergone 12 operations, totalling nearly 100 hours of surgery and now proudly sports a Union flag glass eye and has become an active charity champion, telling his story across the country to help inspire others and encourage people battling against adversity.