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Brave soldier’s marathon effort

PUBLISHED: 18:12 13 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:41 25 August 2010

HEROIC: Major Phil Packer in Greenwich walking the Marathon.

HEROIC: Major Phil Packer in Greenwich walking the Marathon.

A WOUNDED British Army soldier who was told he would never walk again has completed the London Marathon on crutches.

A WOUNDED British Army soldier who was told he would never walk again has completed the London Marathon on crutches.

Major Phil Packer, originally from Petts Wood, spent 14 days completing the 26-mile course and last Saturday reached The Mall, where Sir Steve Redgrave presented him with a medal.

The Royal Military Police officer lost the use of his legs in Iraq but hopes to raise £1 million for Help for Heroes by completing ambitious challenges.

Major Packer, 36, said: "A year ago I never thought this would be possible. Stanmore Hospital and the Armed Forces have 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."

Major Packer injured his legs last year when a vehicle drove into him during a missile attack in Basra. But despite his disability, the former Eltham College student started the Flora London Marathon on the same day as 35,000 other runners and completed the course in two-mile legs.

Along the way he kept a blog, explaining how he needed evening physio sessions and a hot baths after gruelling days on the road.

In Greenwich town centre he was followed by schoolchildren and supporters, including soldiers of the Coldstream Guards as he circled the Cutty Sark.

He told the Times: "I'm still a serving commissioned officer, and at Sandhurst you are told you lead by example. I want to get out there and show I'm still very capable even though I'm disabled."

The soldier said on his website this week that he has so far raised £700,000 for Help for Heroes, a charity supporting injured soldiers. The Major has already appeared in the Kentish Times when he rowed across the English Channel with a friend in February.

His next major challenge is to climb El Capitan, a 3,000ft vertical rock face in Yosemite National Park, California. For more information or to make a donation visit www.philpacker.com.

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