Speed 20 January 2012

How was your walk to work today? If you did walk, that is.

Ever done a 5k run? 10k? A marathon? Good for you.

How about walking 2012 miles after having been told by doctors that you’d never walk again?

Feeling inspired now, or are you still too shocked to even contemplate that feat? Well it’s actually happening: Phil Packer MBE, the former Major who received severe spinal injuries while on duty in Iraq and has since completed several gruelling, daunting physical challenges, is going to top them all this year. He’s going to walk 2012 miles over the course of 2012.

Why? It’s the centrepiece of his bid to build a £15 million facility to inspire young people in Britain who are at their lowest ebb, facing physical and mental adversity and who have lost belief in themselves.

How? Phil is going to walk 2012 miles over the course of this year, starting from Chichester College on Tuesday. It will see him walking in every county of the UK, including the Channel Islands. And he’s seeking the support of the general public, businesses and charities to help him inspire the youth of Britain. He’ll be assisted by the Armed Forces in undertaking the walk, and by a team of mentors including Sir Richard Branson, Jamie Oliver MBE, Sally Gunnell MBE, Kate Silverton, Suzanne Dando, Iwan Thomas, Eamonn Holmes and Gabby Logan. He will also have the support of Speed, which is managing the national, broadcast, regional and social media publicity for free, helped by Ketchum Pleon on regional media.

When? He sets out on Tuesday.

Where? All around the UK, starting on the south coast and moving to the south east in the coming weeks. Keep checking the web site for details.

What made Phil want to do this? In his words: “This is the biggest challenge I’ve undertaken but we must come together as a society to help our young people believe in themselves. We want the whole country to sit up, take notice and take action to inspire the people who are the future of Britain.

“My work supporting other charities 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. 

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

And a word from General Sir David Richards, the Chief of Defence Staff and head of the UK Armed Forces: “The support from the public to the Armed Forces and to service charities in recent years has been extraordinary. To thank the public for their support, kindness and generosity, I am encouraging Armed Forces individuals and teams to participate in the BRIT 2012 Challenge to raise money not only for service charities but also charities in the regions and communities in which they are based. I commend the challenge to everyone and in particular to schools, colleges, universities and youth groups.”

What next? This is going to be an important story throughout 2012 on many levels. I and the team supporting this from Speed are privileged to be involved, and would appreciate as much help as is feasible from the PR world to publicise this work far and wide.

Stay tuned to the media, social media, the BRIT web site and the Speed web site to learn more about the cha
llenge’s progress, and how you and others can get involved.