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Watch the emotional moment dad who suffered second stroke in 2014 finishes first-ever Kesgrave parkrun

PUBLISHED: 18:41 21 May 2017 | UPDATED: 19:00 21 May 2017

Ben Parker, who suffered his second stroke three years ago, after compeleting his first-ever Kesgrave parkrun. L-R: Lucy Bryanton (Ben's sister), Ben Parker, Tim Deroy-Chennells (who ran with Ben), Ben's five-year-old daughter, and Ben's mother, Ann Parker. Picture: PERRY EVANS

Ben Parker, who suffered his second stroke three years ago, after compeleting his first-ever Kesgrave parkrun. L-R: Lucy Bryanton (Ben's sister), Ben Parker, Tim Deroy-Chennells (who ran with Ben), Ben's five-year-old daughter, and Ben's mother, Ann Parker. Picture: PERRY EVANS

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“Never give up.” That’s the life motto of Ben Parker, a 39-year-old father who completed his first-ever Kesgrave parkrun on Saturday – three years after suffering his second stroke.

Cheered on by his family and hundreds of runners and volunteers at the finish line, he finished the 5km course in a time of 50 minutes and 53 seconds.

“I couldn’t believe the applause,” he said. “It brought a tear to my eye.”

He suffered his first stroke 17 years ago. It left him in a three-week induced coma.

The Colchester-born carpenter, who grew up in Frinton and now lives in Kesgrave, was told he may never walk or talk again.

“I couldn’t speak,” he recalls. “It was very difficult because no-one would listen to you. They thought I was talking nonsense, going ‘blah blah blah’. It was like having tape wrapped around your face. It was really frustrating and difficult. It’s unbelievable.”

He slowly began to rediscover the ability to talk. Singing lessons based on James Blunt’s music proved to be a turning point. He treated himself to a four-and-a-half year trip to Australia.

He said working too hard back home led to his second stroke in 2014. It was later discovered he had a hole in his heart.

“I had to completely start again,” he said. A combination of sheer determination and his “lovely” five-year-old daughter kept him going. “She’s why I’m still here today,” he said.

He said he took on the Kesgrave parkrun to prove something to himself and others. He ran with Tim Deroy-Chennells, a friend of his sister, Lucy Bryanton.

Mr Parker said: “He said at the start ‘if you want to quit at any time, that’s okay’. But I never give up. It was quite taxing, but I was not going to back down.”

Mrs Bryanton, 46, of Martlesham, said: “It was really overwhelming. I was quite panic-stricken when I heard about it, but it was so emotional watching him.

“His daughter keeps telling him ‘I’m so proud of you daddy’. She hasn’t stopped all day.

“He is stubborn and determined. You can’t talk him out of anything. He wants to prove people wrong. It was just an amazing day. Everyone at parkrun and Ipswich Hospital’s stroke ward are absolutely amazing.”

He plans to run again next week.

Jenny Evans, Kesgrave parkrun event director, said: “People had goosebumps. It was amazing. His story is truly inspirational.”

For more information about the Kesgrave parkrun, see here.


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