An injured serviceman who was told he would never walk again after suffering a severe spinal cord injury in 2008 arrived in Duns last week as part of his epic 2,012 mile walking challenge around the British Isles.
Phil Packer MBE gave a talk to students at The Berwickshire High School before they joined him as he set off on a six mile walk around the school grounds.
Phil proves time and time again that “Everything is possible,” in line with the motto of his charity - the British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) - as he aims to raise £15 million to build the BRIT Centre of Inspiration for young people facing adversity.
Walking eight to 10 miles for Phil is the equivalent of over a marathon for a person without a spinal cord injury. When he finishes in December, Phil will have walked the equivalent of approximately 310 marathons in 330 days.
Phil has spent the whole of August walking in every county of Scotland. He will return to London in December for his final month when he will walk in each of the 33 London Boroughs before completing his 2012 miles at Canary Wharf.
Dr Angela Gall, the spinal injury rehabilitation consultant at the London Spinal Injury Centre said: “The energy Phil uses when walking is three to four 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. Eight to 10 miles a day is a fantastic achievement and will require a great deal of effort and determination. Phil is walking an equivalent of a marathon-distance effort a day.”
Over the last four years, the challenges Phil has undertaken for others and his determination to support charities and young people have inspired millions. The fundraising hero has been selected as an honorary torchbearer for the London Olympics and carried the Olympic Flame on the July 26 in Islington - the 186th day of his BRIT 2012 mile walk – and the day before the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.
He told students at Berwickshire High: “This is about providing a physical legacy for our young people who face their darkest times and in a very special year including Her Majesty the Queen’s Jubilee Year and London 2012.
“I hope that 2,012 businesses will show their support of our young people who face adversity by creating a Centre of Inspiration together.
“I also hope to involve young people throughout the year and encourage teams to help charities within their communities. I look forward to hearing from charities and young people throughout the country that need support or would like to show their support for the BRIT cause.”
Phil reached the half-way 1,006 mile mark of his challenge on August 22, when he launched an appeal to businesses to pledge either £10,000 for the capital build or £5,000 for specialist equipment to make the BRIT Centre of Inspiration a reality.
Phil’s unique vision for BRIT is to ensure the charity works in partnerships with other charities, providing synergies and, therefore, support for more young people in need. He does not ask the public for financial support.
Phil hopes that by the end of his 2012 mile Challenge in December, the 2012 opportunities for businesses and individuals to pledge their support to build the BRIT Centre of Inspiration for young people will have been offered that would undoubtedly inspire millions.
On his journey, Phil is looking forward to meeting and talking to young people and charities within the local community who will hopefully join him on the challenge.
He hopes that schools, colleges and universities he visits will his take him up on his invitation to show their support for young people facing adversity
Young people can do so by registering for the “BRIT 2012 Challenge” via the BRIT website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channel and completing 2012 miles this year as teams.
One of the teams will receive a cheque for £2,012 on the final day of his walk in London in mid-December following a draw on the day and the team can decide on which charity the money goes to.