A man who was told he would never walk again, strolled through Croydon on Sunday as he nears the end of his 2,012 mile challenge.
Phil Packer, who served in the army for 17 years, suffered severe spinal cord damage in 2008 while on operational duty. A vehicle struck him after a rocket attack in Basra, Iraq, leaving him paralysed from the waist down. Doctors told him that it was unlikely he would ever walk again.
Packer, who founded the British Inspiration Trust, began his journey in January through counties across the UK as a bid to raise £15 million to build a Centre of Inspirational Excellence for young people facing adversity.
Of the initiative, Packer said: “Walking 2,012 miles will be an enormous challenge. I want young people to take part in it and to show them that they are not alone. I want to connect them with inspirational figures, sporting teams, businesses and the British public.”
The centre will provide support to reshape the lives of these young people by instilling self-belief, self-worth, and self-confidence. Packer’s charity, BRIT, has gained a few famous supporters including Sir Richard Branson and Prime Minister David Cameron.
Branson commented in the BRIT Challenge press release: “BRIT is qualified and inspiring because it is the brain child of the most inspirational individual – its founder, Phil Packer, MBE – a person I deeply admire.
Now in the last month of the challenge, Packer visited his grandmother in Croydon on the 315th day of the journey. He took to his blog to tell of the day:
“The minute I walked into my grandmother’s cottage, I felt calm. She looked absolutely radiant and there is most definitely an aura about Darling. Talking with Darling gives me a huge amount of inner strength.”
His route was mapped out by college students and co-ordinated with the Armed Forces. Packer walks at specific venues rather than on roads to ensure that there is no traffic disruption or burden to the police or local authorities.