Charity activist awarded Honorary Degree
Charity fundraiser and activist, Phil Packer MBE, has been awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Human Sciences today (Wednesday 13 July).
Phil sustained catastrophic spinal cord injuries in 2008, while on operational duty with Her Majesty’s Armed Forces; he was told it was highly unlikely he would walk again. Following surgery and rehabilitation, and regaining some improved mobility, he embarked on numerous publicised extreme physical challenges to raise money and awareness for causes close to his heart.
In February 2009 he rowed the English Channel, going on to enter the 2009 London Marathon, which took him thirteen days to complete - the longest time in the event’s history.
In 2010 he took part in the National Three Peaks Challenge for Sport Relief, in association with BBC Sport, climbing the highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales in 72 hours, documented in ‘A Major Mountain to Climb’.
In 2012, Phil completed 2012 miles throughout every county in the UK, meeting young adult and students (with his spinal cord injury, the equivalent of 310 marathon distances in 331 days). To ensure he understands the scope of young adult and student mental health nationally and regionally, he has conducted over 450 visits to universities, colleges, schools, charities and communities to gain a greater insight of the mental and physical health issues faced by young adults and students throughout the UK.
Phil champions inclusion and works tirelessly to support to young people and veterans, and he founded his charity BRIT (The British Inspiration Trust), to inspire and support young people facing adversity. He will be supporting Solent’s participation in next year’s BRIT challenge.
His achievements have been recognised with numerous awards including, the Helen Rollason Award 2009 (BBC Sports Personality of the Year), ‘Fundraiser of the Year’ (Pride of Britain Awards), Athlete of the Year Badge (from the Scout Association), Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) 2010 (the Queen’s Birthday Honours and the Jane Tomlinson Inspiration Award (Runner’s World).
Commenting on his award, Phil says: “I feel very proud to receive an honorary Doctor of Human Sciences from Solent University, congratulate every graduate on their very special day and wish them all the very best of luck on their next adventures. Knowing that Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE DL and Geoff Holt MBE DL, two inspirational figures who have supported me over the years, have also received this honorary award makes today even more special for me."
Phil goes on to say "The successes of the British Inspiration Trust, and trying to establish the annual BRIT Challenge as an inclusive UK-wide legacy event, would not be possible without all the students and staff who have participated, the universities and colleges who support BRIT, the sport and education governing bodies and charities who work closely with us, and the BRIT Ambassadors who gift their time to support and improve young adult and student mental health and fitness. They have all been integral to enabling me to carry out my charity work, for which I am sincerely grateful. There has never been a more important time to support young adult and student mental health, and the charities who deliver vital help. I encourage every graduate to make a little time to support mental health charities each year and encourage their future employers to consider how they can have a positive impact by raising funds, enabling their staff to volunteer time and uniting to destigmatising mental health”.