Phil Packer's plans to help young people with a centre in West Sussex

After suffering severe spinal cord injuries whilst on operational duty in 2008, Phil Packer was told it was unlikely he would ever walk again. Here he tells of his plans to help young people

The former Army Major Phil Packer inspires many with his fundraising deeds. After suffering severe spinal cord injuries whilst on operational duty in 2008, Phil was told it was unlikely he would ever walk again. Since then, he has walked the London Marathon twice, rowed the Channel, hauled himself up El Capitan and climbed the 3 Peaks in 72 hours. Here he talks of his plan to help young people

Phil Packer is a living, breathing example of what can be achieved through determination and the will to succeed. After his catastrophic injuries, he literally picked himself up and raised more than �1million for wounded servicemen and in 2010 he was awarded the MBE by the Queen.

Now he has founded the British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) to provide inspiration to re-ignite self belief in young people facing adversity.

He is asking businesses to pledge money to build a National Centre of Inspirational Excellence which he plans to build in West Sussex.

“The BRIT Centre is a physical space where I can bring inspirational people who will just spend time with young people who are sent by partner charities,” said Phil. He wants BRIT to support other charities in their work rather than challenging them for funds or being a distraction.

“I don’t want to ask the public for any money. And this is a difficult one to explain. If I ask the public for money I might as well go and join another charity and go and work for them. I want to do it in a different way. I want to support those charities and bring them together.”

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The idea is based on corporate rather than public donations. He wants 1,000 companies to pledge �10,000 each to give BRIT the capital it needs to build the Centre.

Now he is actively looking for someone to donate a suitable site within the national park. Phil believes that once he has the site the rest of his vision will be achievable within two years.

He wants to build it in West Sussex because he has based himself in the South Downs near Chichester and thinks it is the perfect site for the centre.

“My link to Sussex is that I travelled for 18 years in the armed forces but I spent three years in West Sussex when I was the Adjutant of the barracks in Chichester. My role was heavily involved in supporting the community.

“I got to know the Marina and Brighton and Chichester, the university, West Dean College, Goodwood, the cathedral and many other organisations.”

Why Phil set up BRIT:

“When I was first injured, I spent time supporting service charities initially.

“A lot of it was to help me, to move me forward and to give me back my self-confidence, self-worth and self-belief. I was 36 when I was injured but when you look at a 16 year old, it’s very different. I was being asked to be an ambassador or a patron for other charities and every time I went out I saw more and more people affected by what I call adversity.

“I am fortunate to be surrounded by over 40 CEOs as my advisers. I don’t believe in the word disability, I think that is a negative word. Young people are young people and they don’t want to be categorised in a specific area, they just want to be a young person.

“I have a vision to build a Centre of Inspiration for those young people facing their darkest times. The inspirational figures I continue to meet are constantly stepping forward as BRIT mentors. Not just Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Ranulph Fiennes but also everyday people who are inspirational in the way they live their lives.

“If I can persuade them to spend 24 hours with young people who face adversity then I could be joining people together in a positive way.”

What will happen at the Centre:

“Sometimes you need a bit of time out to re-evaluate where you are and where life is going.

“Following a traumatic experience it is about getting your self esteem and self worth back and that’s the area I think I know quite well and that is what BRIT is all about.

“Young people will come for a residential course in a themed month, so say for example it is motorsport, motor industry month, we have the support of inspirational figures from the motorsport industry as BRIT mentors and I have been delighted to receive support from Lord and Lady March.

“BRIT approaches supporting young people by looking at the positive and saying that that’s what it’s about.

“It’s about living life again and living life to the full.”


Sir Richard Branson

I am proud to be a supporter of BRIT, an organisation that not only brings charities together, but encourages young people who face the most unbelievable challenges every day!

Jamie Oliver

Phil Packer is one truly inspirational guy. If anyone can help young people to overcome great odds, then Phil is the man. His vision for BRIT is extraordinary and I applaud and admire him.

Sally Gunnell OBE

I’m passionate about supporting young people especially those facing adversity. It is often at these times society can let them down and from my experience, it is at this stage we need to step up and show our support. By supporting BRIT I hope I motivate and inspire others to do the same!”

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