Ben McBean and Matt Kingston taking part in the London Marathon 2010

Ben McBean

Ben's Story

Ben McBean, who served in the Royal Marines, was injured five months into his first tour of Afghanistan in February 2007. It was a boiling-hot day as they started their routine foot patrol. An hour into their walk the group had to run across 60 metres of open ground. "I was running as fast as I could, following the guy in front, before I knew it, I was upside down and my face was burning" recalls Ben.

Ben was put on a transport plane back to England. He woke up in the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, to discover that his right leg and left arm had been amputated. Ben says "The leg's fine but not having two arms, man, it’s annoying. I’ve learnt to do everything I did before - laces, buttons, making a cup of tea - but it takes five times longer." His new arm, complete with hairs and "veins", is beautifully made but heavy and, he admits, not very useful. "You go into a shop, drop your change, struggle to open a bag… you can see people thinking, 'Why's he not using it?'"

The next steps

Despite these injuries Ben soon made plans to run the London Marathon in 2008 in support of Help for Heroes. Doctors told him not to think about it, but nothing was going to stop him and he finished it in 6 hours 15 minutes. He managed all of this despite the fact his prosthetic leg was cutting into his stump causing it to swell to twice the size. Ben said "So many people were supporting me and I kept thinking of my mates serving in Afghanistan on the front line and that’s what kept me going."

Ben dreamt of being a Marine from the age of 10, and has no regrets: "If I'd lost my limbs because I'd got drunk and fallen in front of a car I'd feel differently, but I was doing a job I love. We all knew the risks and we took them in good faith. In many ways it was the best time of my life."

Ben said he was "much moved" by the support that was given to him by Help for Heroes. He told his mother when he was in his hospital bed that when he left he was going to start running and raising money for Help for Heroes.