Phil Packer

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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."

Guernsey Community Foundation Awards 2013

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.

Physical Challenges to raise funds and awareness[edit]

Packer, determined not to let the dark moments engulf him,[3][8] began attempting gruelling physical challenges both to raise money, and to help himself recuperate psychologically from his injuries.[7][9]


Packer hauling himself up El Capitan in Yosemete National Park; 4 days and 4250 pull-ups

His three main challenges in 2009 were completed within six months.

Packer's aim was to complete three physical challenges within 6 months in order to raise £1million for wounded service personnel.

He rowed the English Channel with Alastair 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.[10] He was met with a rapturous reception on The Mall and presented with his finisher's medal by Sir Steve Redgrave. By the end of the marathon he had raised £637,000 for wounded ex-servicemen.[12][13]

The same year with support from an expert climbing team led by Andrew Kirkpatrick, Packer scaled El Capitan, the granite cliff in Yosemite National Park. This involved over 4,250 pull-ups and sleeping suspended on the side of the mountain for 3 days.[11][14][15] The climbing team included British Climbers; Ian Parnell, Paul Tattersall and Ben Pritchard.

In total he raised over £1.3 million for the wounded in 2009.[11]


Inspirational Figures, Sir Steve Redgrave CBE DL & Sir Clive Woodward OBE, join Kate Silverton and Phil Packer on Mount Snowdon as they complete the 3 Peaks for Sport Relief in 72 hours

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 a team including Alastair Humphreys and Andy Kirkpatrick 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]


Packer walked 2012 miles throughout every county of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the year 2012, to meet young people facing trauma throughout the United Kingdom, raise awareness of his charity the British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) and meet charities, colleges and universities. He was hosted each day by either a voluntary youth organization, charity, school, college or university. He walked in every county of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland as well as Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and the Isle of Man. He met tens of thousands of young people throughout his challenge.[17] Packer began his BRIT 2012 Challenge on the 26 January 2012 in Chichester, West Sussex. The challenge conclude on 19 December 2012 in Canary Wharf, London.[18]

The BRIT 2012 Challenge equated to 310 marathon distances in 331 days. Dr. Angela Gall, the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Consultant at the London Spinal Injury Centre, said:

“As for his 2012 mile walk, this needs to be put into context with his spinal cord injury. Walking 2012 miles throughout 2012 was an enormous challenge. The literature (physiological cost index) estimates the energy Phil uses when walking is 3 to 4 times that of someone without a spinal cord injury. This means that walking for Phil is very effortful, he uses a lot of energy and puts additional stress on his musculoskeletal system. 8 to 10 miles a day is a fantastic achievement and required a great deal of effort and determination. Phil was walking an equivalent of a marathon distance effort a day”.

2015 BRITATHON - 14 Days to 14 Hours on 14th September 2015[edit]

Six years after completing the London Marathon in a punishing 14 days after sustaining a complex spinal cord injury whilst serving on operational duty, on the 14th September 2015, Phil set out to complete a marathon distance through the City of London in an incredible 14 hours.[19] Phil took on this ambitious challenge to kick-start a £1m fundraising drive to help BRIT accelerate the development of the UK’s first ever Residential Centre of Inspiration dedicated to charities supporting young people facing trauma and adversity.

The training for this challenge took over a year and he was supported by the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and the University of Chichester [20] During the year he battled with medical difficulties which resulted in significant muscle and weight loss due to internal stomach issues. The Sport Scientists, together with nutritionists and the NHS assisted Phil to prepare for the marathon challenge.

Phil was joined by inspirational figures, representatives from BRIT’s charity partners and their young people who are inspired by the intent to build a dedicated centre. Businesses or Individuals are being invited to donate £14,000 each to raise a total of £1.4million for young people facing trauma and adversity. These 100 Business Chief Executives and Individuals who are pledging support will show a collectively powerful and visionary approach to fundraising.

Phil Packer said:

“The funds will shape the vision of BRIT and allow us to work with young people, together with our Charity Partners, by holding inspirational events that will involve them in design, planning and strategy groups. Together we will invest in, empower and involve young people with every area of our pre-Centre work in a meaningful, targeted and measurable way. I sincerely hope that this opportunity to deliver a lifeline to young people will capture the imagination and support of Corporate and Individual Donors to make this vision a reality”.

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][21] 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.[21][22]


BRIT was established to help transform the lives of young people across the UK, between 16-25, who are facing trauma and adversity. They intend to do this by building the first ever dedicated Centre of Inspiration in the UK. The Centre will be built for BRIT's partner charities to refer their young people. BRIT will provide a unique lifeline within a safe, inclusive and inspirational environment enabling young people to start rebuilding their lives by regaining their self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth.

As a conduit charity, BRIT will take an innovative and inclusive approach to helping young people by bringing together and developing close working partnerships with a range of UK charities and support groups. Integral to their work are the host of inspirational BRIT Mentors from across sport, entertainments, business and the arts. The success of all BRIT activities will be underpinned by working with Senior Advisors, Charity Partners, Chief Executives and Inspirational Figures. This ever increasing list of experts and professionals will shape the vision of BRIT and deliver the BRIT Centre.


BRIT will raise the estimated £15m to create a unique eco-friendly Centre of Inspiration that will become the future hub for respite, support and activities in order to provide a positive change to the lives of thousands of vulnerable young people. To shape the vision of BRIT we will work with young people, together with our Charity Partners, by holding inspirational events that will include design, planning and strategy groups. Our aim is to empower and include young people in every area of our Pre-Centre work.

The sustainability of BRIT will be achieved through long-term partnerships and relationships with business leaders, organisations and inspirational figures. By pledging their support they will provide income generation and infrastructure to ensure the BRIT Centre and its activities with young people remain both innovative and sustainable in its approach.

Charity Appointments[edit]

His principal role is as the founder and non-paid CEO of The British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) but he retains strong relationships with numerous charities that he has worked closely with for many years. These special relationships include;

Ambassador for The Prince’s Trust (2009–present)

Special Ambassador for The Royal Yachting Association’s Sailability Program (2009 - present)

Ambassador for The Douglas Bader Foundation (2009 - present)

Patron for The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children NSPCC Team GO (2009 - present)

Patron of Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) (2009 - present)

Vice Patron of The Helen Rollason Cancer Charity (2011- present)

Ambassador for The UK The Scout Association Scout Association (2012 - present)

He stepped down from a number of charities in 2014, however maintains special relationships with them;

Ambassador for The Calvert Trust (2009 - 2014)

Special Ambassador for The Army Benevolent Fund – The Soldiers’ Charity (2009 - 2014)

Ambassador for The Football Foundation’s Inside Right Programme (2009 - 2014)

Envoy for The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Children’s Fund (2010 – 2014)

Envoy for Combat Stress (Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society) (2010 – 2014)

Envoy for The National Autistic Society (2010 – 2014)

Envoy for Arthritis Research UK (2010 – 2014)

Vice President of The Children’s Trust (2011 – 2014)

Envoy for The Papworth Trust (2011 – 2014)


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,[23] was named "Most intrepid man" by The Observer newspaper,[24] and received the Athlete of the Year Badge from The Scout Association.[25]

Packer was made appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) (Mil) in the Queen's Birthday Honours of 2010,[26][27] and also received the Jane Tomlinson Inspiration Award from Runner's World.[28]

In 2012, Packer was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree in Education from the University of Chichester. In 2014, he was awarded a Master of Arts degree in Psychological Trauma from the University of Chester.

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 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. ^ – presentation "Join the BRIT 2012 Challenge", British Inspiration Trust website
  18. ^ "Chichester College is proud to be supporting the British Inspiration Trust", Chichester College news
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ a b Stars Back Phil Packer's British Inspiration Trust, Tim Saunders,, 13 December 2010
  22. ^ Inspirational Malmesbury teen chosen for Iraq hero's new inspiration charity, Tina Robins, Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard, 2 December 2010
  23. ^ "Fundraiser Of The Year - Major Phil Packer", Pride of Britain Award Winners 2009
  24. ^ "Most intrepid man: Major Phil Packer", Tom Lamont, The Observer, 15 November 2009
  25. ^ Scout's honour for Britain's best, The Scout Association, 31 July 2009
  26. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59446. p. 5. 12 June 2010. Retrieved 5 July 2013.
  27. ^ Dog unit army major among Queen's honours, BBC News Online, 12 June 2010
  28. ^ Heroes Of Running 2010: The Winners - The Inspiration: Major Phil Packer, Runner's World, 23 April 2010

External links[edit]