Phil Packer

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Phil Packer - Founder & Non-Paid CEO of The British Inspiration Trust

Philip Michael 'Phil' Packer, MBE MA (Ed) (honoris causa) MA (honoris causa) FRSA (born 1972) is an influencer and champion of charitable support and fundraising causes for young people. He is the founder and non-paid CEO of The British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) and a patron and ambassador of a number of other charities supporting young people. His aim is "To deliver inspiration, create greater inclusion and to influence in the areas of self-harm, depression and mental health at the highest level in order to improve the vital support for young people experiencing trauma in their lives."

Surgery and Rehabilitation[edit]

Phil Packer learning how to climb stairs at RNOH Stanmore as a wheelchair user

Packer sustained catastrophic spinal cord injuries in 2008, whilst on operational duty. When first told of the extent of his injuries, Packer was devastated.[1][2] He suffered a bruised heart, broken ribs, and a motor complete T12/L1 Spinal Cord Injury.[3][4] Doctors who treated him at the time told the 36 year old he would never walk again.[5] Following surgery and recuperation at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital at Stanmore, and later at the Headley Court Rehabilitation Centre in Surrey, his spinal cord injury improved to T12/L1 motor incomplete. However, although his mobility has shown some improvement, he is unable to control his body temperature due to nerve damage and has no bladder or bowel function. His sexual function was also affected. [6]

Whilst these are sensitive issues, he openly discusses his own problems in order to break down the barriers that young people with similar challenges face. He uses his own personal experience of psychological trauma and depression to promote a wider understanding of mental health issues, particularly in young people. “Frank and honest discussion raises awareness of the problem and reduces social stigma,” he says.

Acceptance and Inspiration[edit]

Phil Packer at the Headley Court gym in late 2008 where he had started to train for his Channel Row in between rehabilitation sessions

A sense of duty provided the acceptance of his situation and is also the driving force in all his charity endeavours. He said “The realisation of not being able to serve in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces was, initially, a crushing blow to my self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth”.

Packer found the motivation to move forward initially from the friends and family who were there at his side. Their unconditional support helped him to meet the physical and mental challenges of his situation and after 5 months of surgery and intensive support, he had surpassed all medical expectations for his recovery.

He said “I owe my mobility and ability to walk again to my surgeon, Jan Lehovsky, and the tremendous team at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital under the leadership of Dr Angela Gall. I am so fortunate and know how lucky I am to live the life I have”.

Despite his injuries, Packer found himself inspired during his treatment and convalescence by those around him whom he felt were less fortunate than himself.[1][2][7] The injured service-personnel, veterans and young people whom he met during this time spurred him on. "[8] He said “The sense of duty that fulfilled my military life became possible again through charities inviting me to fill ambassadorial roles. This gave me a new perspective to live life to the full and give back to those who are struggling both physically and mentally”.

As his recuperation progressed, a number of key individuals offered their support, most notably Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Sir Steve Redgrave, who, amongst many others, continue to encourage Packer in his endeavours.

Fundraising efforts[edit]

Packer, a self-confessed "adrenaline junkie",[3][8] began attempting gruelling physical challenges both to raise money, and to help himself recuperate psychologically from his injuries.[7][9]

His three main challenges in 2009 were completed within six months. He rowed the English Channel with Al Humphreys on 14 February, less than a year after his injury.[10][11] Next he entered the 2009 London Marathon.[4] Because of his ongoing therapy—he had only been walking on crutches for a month—his doctors recommended that he walk no more than two miles a day, and consequently it took him thirteen days to complete the course, then the longest time in the event's history (surpassed by fundraiser Lloyd Scott in 2011 who took 26 days to complete the Marathon).[10] Hundreds of people turned out to cheer as he reached the finish line, and he was presented with his finisher's medal by Sir Steve Redgrave. By the end of the marathon he had raised £637,000 for Help for Heroes, a charity dedicated to disabled ex-servicemen.[12][13]

The same year with support from an expert climbing team including Andrew Kirkpatrick, Packer scaled El Capitan, the granite cliff in Yosemite National Park. This involved over 4,200 pull-ups and sleeping suspended on the side of the mountain for 3 days.[11][14][15] In total he raised over £1.3 million for Help for Heroes in 2009.[11]

He is a Vice-President of The Children's Trust, a UK charity for children with brain injury.

In 2010 Packer and BBC presenter Kate Silverton took part in the National Three Peaks Challenge for Sport Relief, climbing the highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales in 72 hours. They were supported by Al Humphreys, Andy Kirkpatrick and Martyn Bird, and joined on Snowdon by Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Clive Woodward. The challenge was the focus of the BBC documentary A Major Mountain to Climb.[11][14]

He also took part in the 2010 London Marathon, this time walking each mile with a young person from a different charity, raising money and awareness for 26 charities. He completed the marathon in his new target time of 26 hours.[13][16]

British Inspiration Trust[edit]

In 2010 Phil Packer founded the British Inspiration Trust (BRIT), which aims to "deliver inspiration to young people facing adversity (who are physically or mentally disabled, deprived, have medical conditions, are injured or wounded)". BRIT is intended to be "a charity for charities", and have inspirational figures serving as BRIT Mentors, giving 24 hours each year to young people. In the long term the aim is to create a Centre of Inspirational Excellence to support charities.[11][17] The Trust was launched with an event at 10 Downing Street with Prime Minister David Cameron. It has received the backing of numerous celebrities, including Ranulph Fiennes, Richard Branson and paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson.[17][18]

BRIT 2012 Challenge[edit]

The BRIT 2012 Challenge was created to raise awareness of BRIT in order to build the Centre of Inspirational Excellence, where charities can send young people to regain their self-worth, self-belief and self-confidence. Phil is currently pursuing his goal of walking 2,012 miles throughout 2012 across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. He is also calling for schools, colleges, universities, and the public to participate in the challenge, either in teams or as individuals.[19] Phil Packer launched the BRIT 2012 Challenge in January 2012 at Chichester College, England. The challenge is scheduled to conclude in December 2012 in London.[20]

Recognition and awards[edit]

In 2009, he won the Helen Rollason Award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards, was "Fundraiser of the Year" at the Pride of Britain Awards,[21] was named "Most intrepid man" by The Observer newspaper,[22] and received the Athlete of the Year Badge from The Scout Association.[23]

Packer was made appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours of 2010 for his fundraising work,[24][25] and also received the Jane Tomlinson Inspiration Award from Runner's World.[26] He also serves as a patron or ambassador to seventeen charities, including The Prince's Trust, the NSPCC, Cardiac Risk in the Young, Help for Heroes, the Army Benevolent Fund, the Football Foundation, Combat Stress, the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity, the National Autistic Society, The Scout Association and the British Legion.[11]

Order of the British Empire (Military) Ribbon.png UNPROFOR Medal bar.gif NATO Medal Yugoslavia ribbon bar.svg General Service Medal 1962 BAR.svg

NATO Medal w Służbie Pokoju i Wolności BAR.svg Iraq Medal BAR.svg Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Accumulated Campaign Service Medal BAR.svg


  1. ^ a b "Soldier Phil Packer gets ready for his biggest battle in London Marathon", Gareth A Davies, Daily Telegraph, 17 March 2009
  2. ^ a b "Courage of crippled major Phil Packer raising £1m for Heroes", Kate Jackson, The Sun, 4 May 2009
  3. ^ a b "Marathon miracle", GMTV, 11 Jun 2009
  4. ^ a b "How 2012 has given an Iraq casualty hope for the future", Neil Wilson, Daily Mail, 16 October 2008
  5. ^ "Paraplegic soldier rows Channel", BBC News, 14 February 2009
  6. ^ "Major Phil Packer: 'I don't want to let other people down'", Phil Reay-Smith, Daily Telegraph, 11 June 2009
  7. ^ a b "Paraplegic Marathoner Still Has Mountain To Climb", National Public Radio, 6 June 2009
  8. ^ a b "London marathon walker Major Phil Packer has over eight miles to go", The Times, 7 May 2009
  9. ^ British Inspiration Trust website[dead link]
  10. ^ a b "Major Phil Packer finishes marathon", Sara Dixon, The Times, 9 May 2009
  11. ^ a b c d e f Phil Packer Home, Official website
  12. ^ "Disabled Major Phil Packer crosses London Marathon finish line two weeks after starting", Sharon Van Geuns, Daily Mirror, 10 May 2009
  13. ^ a b "London Marathon major Phil Packer gets over line in 26 hours", Metro, 27 April 2010
  14. ^ a b "Iraq War veteran Phil Packer and BBC newsreader Kate Silverton complete Three Peaks Challenge", Daily Telegraph, 10 March 2010
  15. ^ Major Phil Packer: 'I don't want to let other people down', Phil Reay-Smith, Daily Telegraph, 11 June 2009
  16. ^ Phil Packer to walk the Virgin London Marathon in 26 hours for 26 charities (press release),
  17. ^ a b Stars Back Phil Packer's British Inspiration Trust, Tim Saunders,, 13 December 2010
  18. ^ Inspirational Malmesbury teen chosen for Iraq hero's new inspiration charity, Tina Robins, Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard, 2 December 2010
  19. ^ – presentation "Join the BRIT 2012 Challenge", British Inspiration Trust website
  20. ^ "Chichester College is proud to be supporting the British Inspiration Trust", Chichester College news
  21. ^ "Fundraiser Of The Year - Major Phil Packer", Pride of Britain Award Winners 2009
  22. ^ "Most intrepid man: Major Phil Packer", Tom Lamont, The Observer, 15 November 2009
  23. ^ Scout's honour for Britain's best, The Scout Association, 31 July 2009
  24. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59446. p. 5. 12 June 2010. Retrieved 5 July 2013.
  25. ^ Dog unit army major among Queen's honours, BBC News Online, 12 June 2010
  26. ^ Heroes Of Running 2010: The Winners - The Inspiration: Major Phil Packer, Runner's World, 23 April 2010

External links[edit]