Britain’s most injured soldier has proved he’s every part the hero by accompanying a disabled teen who also defied the odds to survive to her school prom.
Ellie Newitt, 16, battled acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and doctors even told her family to prepare for the worst.
But she pulled through and is battling back to health with help from the same physio who works with hero soldier and double amputee Ben Parkinson, 33.
And when the ex-serviceman – the most seriously injured soldier to survive the Afghanistan war – heard about her courage, he offered to escort her to her school prom.
Proud Ellie, who uses a wheelchair, said the war hero made Hayfield School prom extra special.
Mum Marie, 35, from Blaxton, South Yorks., said: “She felt like a princess, she said her dress was so pretty. And she said Ben looked handsome too, she had a fabulous time.”
“To go through what she has gone through.
“I never thought I’d see her go to prom. It was amazing.”
Ellie was a typical 12-year-old schoolgirl before she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2014.
During chemotherapy treatment she suffered a series of seizures and bleeds on the brain.
She suffered a series of complications and at one time had 16 fits in 24 hours which left her paralysed from the neck down and also resulted in her losing her speech.
Ellie also has had surgery to fit a metal plate in her head.
At one stage, surgeons prepared the family to say their goodbyes and readied a death certificate as Ellie wasn’t expected to survive the next half hour.
During everything, Marie and Ellie’s dad Darren, 41, rallied friends and family, including her 11-year-old brother Ashton, to encourage Ellie to fight back.
Marie said: “She is an incredible fighter. We had been told she was in a vegetative state and were asked to consider switching off her life support.
“But slowly she started to breathe by herself.
”Her recovery has been a miracle.
“She has been in cancer remission for a years. Now mentally she is fine – but she is still battling to walk again. She is determined to succeed.”
Eighteen months ago Ellie was at a local leisure centre with her grandma and they saw Ben there with his physiotherapist Robert Shepherd.
They asked Robert Shepherd for advice, and after hearing her story Ben told him ‘you have to help her’.
“Since then he has been helping her with physiotherapy and Ben has been an inspiration because of all he has achieved,” said Marie.
“He told Ellie he would be her date at the school prom to encourage her and he has been true to his word.”
“I shed a tear when I saw Ben waiting for her in uniform and giving her a corsage. He is remarkable. All the other pupils were cheering.”
Ellie attended her Hayfield School prom at the Mount Pleasant Hotel in Doncaster on Wednesday July 4.
Ben wore his uniform and medals, and Ellie wore a blue ‘princess’ dress donated by a local shop.
Marie, a recruitment firm boss, said Ellie can talk but can’t stand up so still has a long way to go.
Her next goal is to be able to walk down the aisle as maid of honour on May 4 next year, when Marie marries her partner John.
Whilst serving in Afghanistan in 2006, Ben was horrifically injured after his vehicle drove over a landmine in Helmand Province.
He lost both his legs in the accident, suffered a broken back and brain damage.
But he fought back to walk again on artificial legs and carried the 2012 Olympic flame through Doncaster.
He has completed a number of long-distance challenges, including an epic 120km Arctic kayaking challenge and is due to take part in a challenge to tandem cycle the 1500 mile length of New Zealand later this year – using his hands to pedal a special bike.