Bombardier Ben Parkinson of F Battery RHA has kindly agreed to allow us to feature him on this web page supporting our Fund raising project.
As an ex member of 7RHA it gives me immense pride to know that the Regiment has never changed it’s character over many years of active service and that it’s soldiers are still the finest, epitomised by Ben Parkinson.
Quote Ben, “I will walk tall again”. He was blown up in Afghanistan and has made an amazing recovery with the help of all the support agencies and most importantly his indomitable courage.
I will be sending Ben reports from the race.
I had the privilege of serving for some 20 years as an army officer. I served with the 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (7RHA), where I commanded G Battery (Mercer’s Troop) RHA, which won it’s battle honour at Waterloo.
The reason for competing in the this famous race is to try and raise funds, for Help for Heroes (H4H) and Pilgrim Bandits, both of whom have been of great help to Ben Parkinson (see below right hand side). Ben is a member of my old Regiment and is the most injured soldier to survive the Afghan conflict. He is therefore one of the most severely disabled. All the monies raised will go to the Charities in equal amounts. None will be used to support my own costs.
I had a major accident as a young officer whilst serving with 41 Commando Group and I would not have recovered to the extent I have without the help of a year’s rehabilitation at Headley Court – the now famous and critically important military rehabilitation unit. I served in Dhofar, Northern Ireland and with Special Forces. In that time a number of my friends, acquaintances and my own soldiers were severely wounded or injured. In most cases, sadly not all, they made significant recoveries helped by Headley Court and all the other support agencies that have helped Ben.
Unfortunately in today’s social environment our fighting soldiers, whom I admire enormously are still not being looked after properly by their political masters, the majority of whom have had little or no experience of service and sacrifice. The military covenant (the incumbent duty of care to soldiers, when put in harms way, and their families), which soldiers always accepted as being “stretched” in time of peace, is being broken. Despite some great efforts, by Richard Dannatt the recently retired Chief of the General Staff (CGS), whom I shared a room with as young officer cadets at Sandhurst some 40 years ago, our wounded and disabled soldiers still need as much help as they can get.
I have raced a yacht round the world "the wrong way" against the winds in 2000/2001 on the Global Challenge. In 2009 I crewed on a transatlantic yacht race sailing a 52 foot yacht called Great Escape and raised £12,000 for Help for Heroes. It had an interesting twist which you can read in the report on this page.
I have always wanted to do the infamous Sydney Hobart yacht race, whose route we tracked on the Global Challenge when conditions were awful. I take the view of a betting man that I have 50/50 chance of the weather being reasonable. I am racing on Merit, which is a Volvo 60 racing yacht with a good pedigree - which is an exciting prospect. I am really pleased that my "watch partner" from the transatlantic race, Mo Hand, is doing the race with me. She will be raising funds separately.
I am extremely grateful to all those who are supporting me in this endeavour – my fellow crew, clients, my business friends and associates and my close friends. Many of whom are donating their support free of charge.
So please dig deep and donate now for something that is very important for all those young men fighting for their buddies, Regiment and Country and extolling those wonderful values of service and sacrifice.