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Focus on Military

Always A Little Further

Last year, on 11 July 2015, the Irwin Mitchell Southampton Military Injury Claims team, together with a few extra recruits, descended upon APA Netheravon, Wiltshire, to take part in the Pilgrim Bandits event to raise funds for the charity through tandem skydiving. We raised over £4,000 for the charity and helped them to raise £12,000 in total.

Pilgrim Bandits Charity was established by a small group of Special Forces veterans in 2007 with the aim of using their unique training and experience to help and inspire wounded soldiers to live life to the full.

The mantra ‘Always a Little Further’ is core to the charity’s attitude, whether working with amputee men and women from the services directly or by utilising their experiences to inspire and encourage young people and children. The charity’s patron, Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson 7 (Para) RHA, lost both legs in Afghanistan following an IED blast in September 2006. Ben also sustained a number of other injuries, including a spinal injury, a pelvic injury and a brain injury; nonetheless, Ben has gone on to inspire others through his endeavours with Pilgrim Bandits and through having completed other feats, such as carrying the Olympic Torch through Doncaster, despite being told he would never walk again.

Irwin Mitchell have also supported Ben and his family in their campaign for an increase in the AFCS award for seriously injured soldiers.

A number of the charity’s ambassadors were also involved on the day. Lance Corporal Tyler Christopher was injured by an IED in Afghanistan in 2009.

As a result of the blast he had to have both legs amputated above the knee, as well as nearly losing his arm and suffering abdominal injuries. However, he has reportedly joked that he was more bothered about losing his camera in the blast, as it had all of his tour photos on it.

Alex Lewis also took part. Alex is the charity’s first civilian ambassador. He was asked to join the Pilgrim Bandits as a result of his remarkable attitude. In November 2013 Alex collapsed before being rushed to hospital. Within a few hours his vital organs were failing and he contracted Strep A, which quickly became Strep A Toxic Shock Syndrome. This lead to septicaemia and necrotizing fasciitis which resulted in quadruple amputation for Alex. He had to undergo extensive skin grafts and facial reconstruction as the infection ravaged his face and mouth as well as his limbs. He was 33 years old at the time, with a partner and a three year old son.

Ben, Alex and Tyler were also joined by Hari Budha Magar, a double amputee from the Royal Gurkha Rifles. Duncan Bannatyne, an ambassador for the charity also attended the event to show his ongoing support.

Autumn 2016 (PDF)

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