War vet Ben runs for Poppy Appeal and is told by Prince Harry to buy his own beer
- Credit: PA
Prince Harry was reunited with injured war veteran Ben McBean again on the finishing line of a gruelling 31-mile fundraising run through London—and told him get his own beer this time.
The last time the two met they had a bet when the Prince lost and had to buy him a crate of larger .
This time Ben had just completed a circular route in the shape of a massive poppy through the streets, starting at Tower Bridge at 6am yesterday and finishing back at St Katharine’s Docks in the afternoon, aiming to raise £100,000 for the Royal British Legion.
The 27-year-old ex-Royal Marine Commando lost his left arm and his right leg in a landmine blast in Afghanistan in 2008.
He was evacuated on the same flight as Prince Harry.
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It was later, while Ben was in rehabilitation back in Britain, that the Prince challenged him to climb a 30ft wall—he lost the bet when the battle-hardened commando got to the top.
“Prince Harry congratulated me when I got to the finish of the Poppy Appeal run and told me to go to the bar and buy my own beer this time,” Ben told the East London Advertiser. “He remembered the bet that cost him 16 cans of Stella. We had a laugh about it.”
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Ben created the first-ever outline of a poppy on the London map using a running app on his Vodafone to plan the route. The Vodafone Foundation has pledged to match whatever he raises, £ for £, up to £100,000, as part of Britain’s #RemembranceDay appeal.
But several times it looked like he wouldn’t make it.
“I fell over a few times and was getting tired,” Ben admitted. “My leg was aching and I felt like I couldn’t be bothered getting up each time.
“But I had set myself a challenge and kept thinking I’ll soon be in a bar celebrating with a beer, which kept me going.”
A woman brought him out a drink (of water!) to get him back up and running. He was cheered by onlookers, with children calling out “nice one” as he passed. A group of youngsters playing football stopped when their coach shouted, “There goes a real hero!”.
Each time he wanted to give up he remembered the pain when a Taliban landmine blew off his leg.
“Running through London streets was not as bad as the horrendous pain from the landmine,” Ben recalls.
“You just have to get on with it ASAP on the battlefield—you don’t think, ‘Why me?’ You’re just grateful you’re alive when others have been killed.
“That’s what kept me going through the streets.”
Ben wanted to join the Army at 17, but had to delay for a year while recovering from a broken leg—ironically the same leg he lost in 2008.
“I wasn’t meant to keep that leg,” he added philosophically. “But at least I can run. I’m alive and can give something back to the British Legion for the sacrifice of others.”
Wellwishers can help Ben on his mission to raise £100,000 for the Poppy Appeal by texting ‘POPP58’ to 70070 with the amount, £1, £2, £5 or £10, or donate online to Ben’s ‘Just Giving’ page.