Phil inspires college students
10:30am Sunday 21st October 2012 in News
An injured ex-serviceman on a 2,012-mile journey around the UK fired up the imaginations of local students last week.
Phil Packer, who served in the armed forces for 17 years, was told that he was unlikely to walk again after his spinal cord was damaged while on operational duty in Basra, Iraq, in 2008.
But the following year, the whole world watched as he crossed the finishing line of the London marathon – 14 days after setting off.
In 2009, he raised more than £1.3million for wounded military personnel, before founding BRIT (British Inspiration Trust), a charity for young people facing adversity.
He said: “When I was in hospital, I felt that people looked at me and thought: he’s a bit of a write-off now.
“I had no self-confidence and no self-esteem, because when you’re lying naked on a bed and everyone is doing everything for you, your dignity just goes.
“Since then I always felt that I wanted to prove to people that I wasn’t a write-off and I had things to offer.”
In 2012, Phil pledged to walk 2,012 miles around Britain and Northern Ireland, and last week his journey brought him to Pembrokeshire College, where he gave an inspirational talk to students.
He said: “I don’t want to be an authoritative figure. I just think: do it if you want to do it.
“People always ask me: what drives you? But when I meet young carers, nursing staff, volunteers, I can’t believe they do what they do – and that’s what drives me.
It’s the other way around.”
Phil took on the challenge in a bid to raise £15million to fund a BRIT Centre of Inspiration for young people facing depression or selfdespair as a result of traumatic experiences.
When he finishes in December, he will have walked the equivalent of 310 marathons in 330 days.
He said: “Doing things for the right reason is very important to me.
“As the chief executive of BRIT I do not take a wage, and I do not pay any staff – anyone who helps me is a volunteer and everything we have is gifted. There are no overheads for the charity, so it runs itself.
“My injury was a wake-up call for me, but I knew I had a choice – either surrender or get on with it. So I did.”
For more information visit www.philpacker.com.