My View, Ben Parkinson: Why war is not over all these years on

Ben Parkinson was at Doncaster Races with fellow injured soldiers Simon Brown who was blinded in Iraq, and Simon Weston who was terribly burnt when HMS Galahad was sunk in the Falklands.
Ben Parkinson was at Doncaster Races with fellow injured soldiers Simon Brown who was blinded in Iraq, and Simon Weston who was terribly burnt when HMS Galahad was sunk in the Falklands.

Summer is always a busy time for us because the charitable folk of Yorkshire have so many fetes and festivals which raise money for loads of different causes.

On Thursday I was at Doncaster Races, raising money for Pilgrimbandits, along with two absolute legends - Simon Brown, who was blinded in Iraq, and who was raising money for the Blind Veterans Association, and Simon Weston who was terribly burned when HMS Galahad was sunk in the Falklands. He raises money for the Falklands Association.

I know Simon Brown really well as he was in hospital with me for quite some time and we have been to several events together. He has several designer false eyes. One is a dartboard, one is a union jack.

When I first met him in hospital, he had to wear a massive metal frame with bolts all round his head. One day his dad forgot he was behind and closed the door too quickly leaving Simon impaled, totally stuck in the door

He was at my table once at a black tie do. His raffle tickets were on the table and he said to one of the guests, ‘I’m going to keep an eye on these’ He then took out his false eye and put it on top of the pile. Certainly turned a few people green on our table!

I often think that losing your sight must be one of the very worst injuries that you can get, but Simon does a fantastic job, making speeches and attending functions to raise money for the charities that have helped him, mostly Saint Dunstan’s and the Blind Veterans Association.

Simon Weston is of course very well known. He gave a fantastic speech on Thursday night, saying how many veterans suffer when they leave the forces whether they are injured or not, and that all they have to rely on is the goodwill of people, and the support of charities, because there is never much support from Government – even less in the days when he was serving than there is now.

He said even now, 33 years later, he is still having operations and treatment for his injuries. He says several of the lads in the Falklands Association are still suffering from the trauma of the things that they saw all those years ago.

So anyone who says that Afghanistan and Iraq are now over has absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.

It was a special night. Not only was I in the company of these incredible men, but I had my marvellous team of collectors from the Army cadets there to help me. They were there again to help me at Rossington on Sunday. How can anyone say we are not still a great country when there are young people like these, who are preparing to serve their country, and willing to give up their free time to help those who have gone before.

Many thanks to you all.