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Phil's Story and Journey

After a military career that spanned 17 years, Phil retired from Her Majesty’s Armed Forces to embark on a new life – one where he can make a positive difference to the lives of young adults, students, and staff, facing adversity, those coping with mental or physical trauma and the charities who support them. In addition to raising funds and awareness, he has made Mental Health, Mental Fitness and Wellbeing his business and duty remains the driving force in his life.


In the course of his work, Phil has raised millions and inspired millions.  He dedicates all his time and energy to working with organisations and charities in the areas of Mental Fitness, Health and Wellbeing, and through his direct support as an Ambassador and Patron to Charities.


Phil's experience has directly resulted in the continued successful delivery of The British Inspiration Trust's annual inclusive BRIT Challenge. Collaboration is at the heart of his work and Phil has implemented BRIT Regional Steering Groups in the eight regions of England, and Scotland and Wales, as an opportunity for a student and staff member to represent their university, college, or specialist college, unite to support and improve wellbeing at their institution, and share best practice around mental health.  

19th February 2008


Phil was injured on Operational Duty whilst serving in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. He sustained injuries to his heart, ribs and catastrophic damage to his spinal cord.


20th February 2008

Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC)

99 Squadron, Royal Air Force flew Phil back to the United Kingdom in a C17 Globemaster III.  He was stabilised, and remained sedated, at The Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

1st March 2008



Phil was transferred to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) Stanmore where he underwent surgery led by Mr Jan Lehovsky, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, to unkink his spinal cord and place a protective cage around the base of his spine.

Phil returns to Germany to greet his tro

May 2008

Last Engagement in Uniform


Phil is given permission (& dispensation), by The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Stanmore and the Ministry of Defence, to fly to Germany and welcome the serving Royal Military Police Officers, who he last saw before he was injured and who were under his command, back from their Operational Deployment.  The Medal Ceremony that followed was the last official Military Engagement for Phil.  He returned to the UK for the remainder of his hospital care and rehabilitation.

March to July 2008


The Spinal Injury Unit at the RNOH, under the leadership of Dr Angela Gall, provided Phil with post-surgery care and Rehabilitation. At that time the prognosis was that it was highly unlikely Phil would walk again.


July 2008 to February 2008

Improved Mobility


Phil remained an outpatient of RNOH and then attended rehabilitation at the Defence Rehabilitation Centre Headley Court.  Over the period of his hospitalisation and rehabilitation, Phil’s T12/L1 Spinal Cord Injury changed from Motor Complete (complete paralysis below the waist) to Motor Incomplete.  His mobility improved to the extent that he learnt to walk again and relied less on his wheelchair.  Phil’s spinal cord injury remains Sensory Incomplete (altered sensation in his legs), he has no temperature regulation, no bladder or bowel function) and now walks with the aid of a stick. 

8th October 2008


£1m fundraising target and Red Devils Challenge

To regain self-worth, self-esteem and to prove he can still contribute, in late 2008 Phil set a target of raising £1milion for the wounded. Mindful he was then a Wheelchair User and undergoing rehabilitation, The Red Devils invited him to join them for a Tandem Sky Dive to mark the start of his fundraising challenge and give him increased confidence.

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Late 2008

Inspirational Support


Inspirational Individuals become aware of his vision, send messages of support to encourage Phil and lend their voices to the campaign; 

Phil, I admire your fortitude your determination and strength of mind. My support and good wishes go with you as you tackle what is probably the hardest journey of your life! It will be incredibly tough and there will be some times when you will want to give up but the reminder of what you are raising money for and the things you are going to experience in your sporting challenges will keep you moving forward. The very best of luck to you Phil.


Sir Ranulph Fiennes Bt OBE

14th February 2009

Channel Row with Al Humphreys

Phil embarks on a set of three physical fundraising challenges to raise awareness of his fundraising campaign.  The first is to row The English Channel with British Adventure and Author, Al Humphreys.  They complete their row in 15 hours and receive messages of support during the row from HRH The Prince of Wales, The Prime Minister and The Chief of the Defence Staff, The First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, Chief of the General Staff and Chief of the Air Staff.  The British Media support Phil with coverage and the British Public are made aware of the fundraising target and donations start to pour in.

Al and I at the beginning.JPG

26th April 2009

2-week London Marathon on crutches


Initially, Phil was intent on completing the 2009 London Marathon in a race wheelchair.  When he was able to stand and was learning to walk again, he sought advice from his Spinal Injury Consultant, Dr Angela Gall, who advised him that he could set a 6-month target, dependent on his rehabilitation and mobility, to walk a maximum of 2 miles a day on crutches.  Phil approached London Marathon who gave him dispensation to complete the London Marathon over a 2-week period as his second fundraising challenge for the wounded.

He is congratulated at the finish line by

Sir Steve Redgrave CBE DL.

July 2009

El Capitan

British Mountaineer, Andy Kirkpatrick challenges Phil to climb El Capitan.  Supported by Andy, and British Mountaineers Ian Parnell and Paul Tattersall, Phil uses a pully system to haul himself up the ropes behind the support team and completes 3250 pull-ups over 4 days to reach the top of El Capitan.

The support of the media and the public, through their donations, is overwhelming. The fundraising campaign exceeds £1.3million for the wounded.

Hauling himself up El Capitan in Yosemet
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November 2009

Pride of Britain

Phil receives the Fundraiser of the Year Award at The Pride of Britain Awards.

December 2009

Phil receives the Helen Rollason Award at BBC Sports Personality of the Year

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March 2010

3 Peaks for Sport Relief


Phil and BBC Journalist Kate Silverton complete the 3 Peaks for Sport Relief, climbing and descending each mountain in 24 hours and driving overnight to reach the next peak.  They are led and supported by Andy Kirkpatrick on Ben Nevis and Al Humphreys on Scafell Pike and Mount Snowdon.  Sir Steve Redgrave CBE DL and Sir Clive Woodward OBE join them on their Mount Snowdon ascent.  The climbs are challenging as Phil’s mobility is limited and therefore his ascents take much longer than usual; this requires patience and resilience from the support team who are braving the low temperatures and winter conditions whilst waiting for Phil to climb.

Concurrently, the BBC film the Sport Relief Challenge and the London Marathon for an Inside Sport Documentary called “A Major Mountain to Climb” which focuses on Phil’s transition from Her Majesty’s Armed Forces to Civilian Life.

April 2010

London Marathon in 26 Hours

Phil completes the London Marathon in 26 hours for 26 charities.  For every mile he walks, a young Ambassador and Charity Representative join him to talk about their journey and the role of their charity.  The aim of the Marathon is to raise awareness of the work of their charity.

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June 2010

Phil is honoured with a MBE (Military) in The Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

March 2010 - December 2011

Phil visits over 55 Charity Chief Executives who support young people facing trauma and adversity in their lives.  They all agree that there is a vital requirement for a Centre to be built which can deliver residential respite, inspirational themed courses and signpost young people to further opportunities and support.  Phil founds the British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) to start to bring organisations together with the vision to build a Centre of Inspiration that they will use.  Each Chief Executive agrees to become an Advisor and for their Charity to partner with BRIT.  Over 50 Inspirational Figures agree to support the vision.  One of the aims of BRIT is to for everything to be gifted; to ensure there are low overheads, the public are not asked to donate (& so BRIT does not compete with other charities) and businesses are encouraged to gift their services or financial support.

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24th January 2012 to 18th December 2012

2012 miles

the equivalent of 310 marathon distances in 331 days

To fully understand the Charity Sector and how charities, young people, colleges, universities, special needs schools and organisations tackle Adversity, Disability and Mental Health, Phil sets out to walk 2012 miles throughout every County of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, including the Isle of Man, Alderney, Jersey, Guernsey and Shetland. 

24th January 2012 to 18th December 2012

Phil was hosted each day by a charity, school, college, university, military unit, emergency service or community; often a mix of all on the same day.  On one of the days, in London, he was honoured to be part of the Olympic Torch Relay.

The super crowds in Islington on my leg

24th January 2012 to 18th December 2012

With his Spinal Cord Injury, the effort of walking 1 mile is the equivalent of 3 – 4 miles for someone without a spinal cord injury, and Phil completed the equivalent of 310 marathon distances in 331 days. He was joined and hosted by tens of thousands of young people, students, veterans, serving military personnel and the emergency services. 

24th January 2012 to 18th December 2012

His UK-wide year-long challenge reached hundreds of thousands of young people and students as well as the hundreds of communities he visited throughout the United Kingdom.

Phil Packer MBE with Ben Fogle and Micha
Presenting Duke of Edinburgh Award Silve


The start of a year to physical recovery from the 2012 challenge and a return to work in support of the charities of which Phil is a Patron or Ambassador.


WAAT4 Challenge in the Brecon Beacons

Between Thursday 20th – Saturday 22nd June, Phil teamed up with young people from HRH The Prince of Wales’ Young Dragons initiative and Mentors from his visionary charity, the British Inspiration Trust (BRIT), Phil completes the WAAT4 Challenge in the Brecon Beacons.

The WAAT4 Challenge, a 40K circular team navigation challenge, is set amongst the iconic Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons and features elements of two Special Forces selection routes.

The eight miles of arduous terrain that the team walked each day is, for Phil, the equivalent of over a marathon due to his injury.

With Young Dragons at the summit of Pen


WAAT4 Challenge in the Brecon Beacons


They finished in time to present prizes to the 100 teams who were completing their WAAT4 Challenge. This event is organised by Dyfed-Powys Police, supported by the Brecon Mountain Rescue Team, Wales Air Ambulance and The Ghurkas. Their simple objective is to raise money to support good causes.


The Young Dragons is a partnership led by HRH The Prince of Wales that aims to increase opportunities for young people to engage in structured activities that benefit local communities. It involves collaboration between uniformed youth organisations (Scouts, Girlguiding, St John Ambulance, Military Cadets, Police Cadets, Fire Cadets, Boys and Girls Brigade, etc.).


The remainder of the year is spent continuing to work closely with charity partners, developing relationships and forging ahead to strengthen the case for the BRIT Centre.



The vast majority of 2014 is spent training for the 2015 Marathon Challenge.  In addition to carrying out Ambassador and Patron duties for charities, Phil visits many of  the organisations and friends who have supported him.


Chichester University’s Institute of Sport, and the Royal Navy in Portsmouth, prepare Phil throughout 2014 for his April 2015 Marathon Challenge.  Due to a change in rule registration for entry into the London Marathon, Phil is unable to participate as he would not be able to finish the course in under 8 hours.


His training regime is extended for further 6-months from April 2015 through to September 2015, during which time Phil coordinates and plans a marathon event in London so that he achieves what he set out to do in early 2014. 

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September 2015

BRITATHON - Marathon in London


Six years after completing his 14-day London Marathon, Phil reduces his marathon time to 14 hours in order to raise awareness of young people facing trauma.  Inspirational figures, representatives from BRIT’s charity partners, and their young people joined Phil on the BRITATHON route.


Phil is flanked along the whole route by Lieutenant Colonel John Maddison MBE RM, Warrant Officer (Class 1) Tiny Nash RN and Royal Navy Physical Training Instructors from HMS Temeraire. He is congratulated at the finish line by Sir Steve Redgrave CBE DL. Sir Steve had congratulated Phil at the finish line of his first, 2009, London Marathon.

Late 2015 - 2018

Phil’s health deteriorates due to internal complications compounded by his spinal cord injury.  Surgery is offered as a last resort.
Dr Angela Gall, Consultant at the London Spinal Injury Centre, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Stanmore, intervenes after Phil loses 4-stone in weight, cannot travel and is unable to fulfil his charitable work.  Medical support is provided that is life-changing and delivers an improved quality of life.

Phil collaborates with the Over The Wall charity and hands over all his work and contacts regarding the vision of the British Inspiration Trust's Centre.


The British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) will now four on delivering non-residential support to your adults, students, and staff, throughout the UK.


2018 - 2019

Phil embarks on an intensive fitness training and nutrition regime under the supervision of Chichester University’s Institute of Sport to regain weight, muscle and focus on strength and conditioning as well as specific training for a planned challenge. 


He continues to receive vital support from the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Stanmore on a weekly basis.


Since 2019, Phil has led the British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) to successfully deliver the annual inclusive BRIT Challenge.  Over 400 universities and colleges have participated and Phil has forged partnerships and special relationships with a wealth of education and sport governing bodies and charities. To date, he has conducted over 850 visits to universities, colleges, specialist colleges, Students' Unions, and communities. Phil has implemented BRIT Regional Steering Groups in the eight regions of England, and Scotland and Wales, as an initiative for student and staff representatives from every UK university, college, specialist college, and Students' Union to unite around mental health, wellbeing, and inclusion.  He is working closely with education governing bodies on a 5-Year Engagement Strategy and continues to build relationships within hundreds of UK universities, colleges, and Students' Unions. 

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