Inspirational charity trekker to visit Coleraine

THE Northern Ireland section of inspirational British ex-serviceman Phil Packer’s gruelling 2012-mile round the UK charity marathon gets under way at the University of Ulster’s Coleraine campus next week when he sets out to visit all six counties of Northern Ireland.

This Thursday (February 23)Phil is calling on young people, businesses and the British public to join him as he walks 2012 miles across the United Kingdom during 2012 to raise £15 million to build a Centre of Inspirational Excellence for young people facing adversity.

Phil, who suffered severe spinal cord damage in 2008 and was told it was highly unlikely he would walk again, kicked off his charity campaign in the south of England last month.

Over the course of the year he will make his way through locations chosen by young people in every county of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, including Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. On the way, he will meet many UK youth who are facing physical and mental adversity, from community groups, schools, colleges and charities who will join Phil at the chosen locations where he will walk.

The money raised will be used to build a unique Centre of Inspirational Excellence, a nationwide facility in West Sussex that will provide support to help reshape the lives of young people facing adversity and instil self-belief, self-worth and self-confidence. The centre will work closely with charities so they can identify young people who face their darkest times and could benefit from attending a residential course. Phil already has more than 50 charity CEOs as British Inspiration Trust advisers who believe in the need for the centre.

Phil will be welcomed to the University of Ulster by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard Barnett, who said: “The University is delighted to be able to make its facilities available to Phil Packer and his team, and I want to encourage staff and students to join him in this important and inspirational endeavour.”

While on the University of Ulster campus, Phil will cover 10 laps of a one-mile circular route, beginning at 10am on 23 February at the Students’ Union building.

“My work supporting other charities over the last four years and meeting young people facing adversity identified the importance of regaining self-belief, self-confidence and self-worth. The mental and psychological challenges of facing adversity are immense, and meeting positive role models and inspirational figures who are willing to spend time with young people is a stepping stone to overcoming adversity. My vision is for a centre that serves young people and brings charities and their best practice together, helping our youth to decide what they want to achieve in life and how to do it,” said Phil.

“Walking 2012 miles will be an enormous challenge. I want young people to take part in it and to show them that they are not alone. I want to connect them with inspirational figures, sporting teams, businesses and the British public,” he said.

“I also hope to involve young people throughout the year and encourage teams to help charities within their communities.”