Monday, May 11, 2009

Diary of a hero - The Sun

INJURED Army Major Phil Packer scored a unique triumph in the London Marathon on Saturday – finishing the race nearly two weeks after he started.
Fifteen months ago the gutsy military policeman was told he would never walk again after he was paralysed in a rocket attack in Iraq. Although he slowly regained some feeling in his legs, it was only in March this year that he managed his first steps.

Yet with the help of crutches, 36-year-old Phil managed a gruelling two miles of the Marathon each day – the maximum that doctors would allow – and was able to complete the 26-mile journey.

Now he hopes to raise £1million for the Sun-backed charity Help for Heroes and by last night he had already been pledged more than £770,000.

Here is his remarkable diary detailing his marathon ordeal.

DAY 1: It’s harder than I thought. I make it to Woolwich Common and I’m shattered. It’s a different pain — I haven’t done this distance before.

DAY 2: A very hard day — cold, wet and I ache.

Passing the £400,000 mark is fantastic, but now it will be a difficult time and the support of everyone has never been so vital to reach the £1million.

DAY 3: Joined by the Fire Service, the City of London Police and the Coldstream Guards as I walk through Greenwich. They really help me along as today is gruelling and they lift my spirits.

DAY 4: Very emotional. Joined by Company Sergeant Major Kat Gallagher who never left my side when I was injured.

Go to my first function as a Prince’s Trust Ambassador tonight and I am shattered.

DAY 5: Really tough day, with pain. I’m accompanied by Mrs Babs Free, wife of my commander in Iraq, and Claude, a fellow patient from Stanmore Hospital in Middlesex.

End the day in tears after an emotional welcome from Redriff School in Southwark.

DAY 6: A really good day and I’m delighted to be joined by three whole schools en route, which lifts my spirits.

DAY 7: It’s a great feeling to reach the half-way point at the Tower of London. I felt I let people down leaving Iraq early when I was hurt. I won’t let them down again.

DAY 8: Almost at the half-way point for the £1million.

The Sun newspaper turns up and I am hoping their article tomorrow will drum up support to help raise the rest.

DAY 9: Certainly getting harder to walk as the days go on. I’m joined by Major Peter Norton GC who is an absolute inspiration to me.

A great guy and it’s super that he came up from Shrivenham in Wiltshire to say hello.

DAY 10: A good day through Canary Wharf but just when I think it will be a dry-eye day, I’m joined by Joe, the Army padre who stayed with me the night I was injured.

DAY 11: As I near journey’s end I am exhausted and in a lot of pain. But the public’s support has been amazing and spurs me on.

Tonight I have the honour of speaking at the Back-Up Trust annual fundraising dinner, a charity that has given me so much and helped me through my dark days at Stanmore Spinal Unit.

DAY 12: Very hard day physically, very sore, and back is very uncomfortable but support has been quite amazing.

Visited the London offices of The Sun where they all have been very supportive. Having the paper behind me throughout my quest has boosted the fundraising. It’s nice to meet some of the staff behind that.

DAY 13: A year ago I never thought this would be possible and there are so many to thank.

Stanmore Hospital, the MoD and Armed Forces have all been outstanding to me. I am walking because of them.

I also know how very lucky I have been to have this mobility. So many are not.

DAY 14: Mission accomplished. Thanks very much to everyone for all the support given to me on this marathon challenge.

I am sincerely grateful.

To donate:
Online - go to

By phone - Call 0300 200 1066 and use the automated system (calls at national rate)

By text - Text HERO to 60999 to donate £5, which will be deducted from your phone bill

By cheque - Click here for the postal address and download gift aid form

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