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Ben Neil walked unaided on his two prosthetic legs at Nottingham Forest's opening home game against West Brom.


By Rachel Armitage


An inspirational Newark man has reached a personal goal to walk to his beloved football team's match on his two prosthetic legs.

Ben Neil has type 1 diabetes and, due to health complications, had a below knee amputation of the right leg in September 2017, and his left leg amputated in May this year (you can read more on Ben's story here).

So he set himself a challenge of walking unaided on his two prosthetic legs at Forest's opening home game on Saturday against West Bromwich Albion.

Kirsty and Ben Neil, with dog Teddy.
Kirsty and Ben Neil, with dog Teddy.

Ben, a Nottingham Forest FC fan, has been blogging about his experiences, as well as those of Kirsty's as she prepares to run her first marathon.

When he revealed to his followers that he had to miss Forest's last game of the season as he was in hospital, his followers set up a GoFundMe page to buy him and Kirsty a new season ticket for the 2019/2020 season, which raised an impressive £1,200.

Ben, now lives in Clipstone, said: "I'm so grateful, these are people who've never even met me before."

When his left leg was amputated, Ben set himself a target of walking to his new seat in the lower Brian Clough stand at the City Ground, and on his way, he said he was constantly stopped by well-wishers who had heard all about his story.

"I'd tried during the day to not wear my legs too much as they cam start to ache after a bit, especially as my left one is quite new, but so many people said they had been following my story and it was so nice."
Ben and Kirsty then walked from the pitch during the warm-up up to their seats, and Ben said the feeling of having 27,000 people applauding him was amazing.

"I think I was on adrenaline so it was only once we got up to our seats and sat down that we were able to relax and watch the match. The result was a shame (Forest lost the match 2-1) but we were still on the crest of the wave."

The next day, Ben and Kirsty were flooded with messages from people who'd seen him walking on the pitch and they were overwhelmed with the support.

To raise money and awareness of diabetes complications, Kirsty will be running the Nottingham Christmas Marathon on November 30.

She said: "I've always wanted to run a marathon but always found excuses not to, but after all Ben has been through, I said it wasn't fair for him to go through all this alone so this is the year I'm doing it."

Kirsty said she didn't enjoy running at school and could barely run a mile, but now she's running eight or nine miles at a time comfortably.

She added: "I'm really enjoying running now, it's a time for myself to just be me. I'm hoping to finish in around five and a half hours."

The journey doesn't end there for Ben though, as he has been invited to take part in a charity walk and bike ride in aid of diabetes complications and he is considering taking up those offers at a later date.

Ben said :"I want to show people that things can be done if you put your mind to it.

"I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported and helped me get to where I am in this short time frame."

You can make a donation to Kirsty's marathon challenge, and follow the couple's story, visit their blog at https://operationmarathon.home.blog/



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