Page last updated at 11:51 GMT, Saturday, 9 May 2009 12:51 UK

Injured major completes marathon


Major Phil Packer crosses the finish line two weeks after starting the marathon

An injured soldier who has been walking the London Marathon on crutches, two miles each day, has completed the course after 13 days.

Maj Phil Packer of the Royal Military Police, who lost the use of his legs in a rocket attack in Iraq, began the race with 35,000 others on 26 April.

He finished the event at about 1230 BST on the Mall, where rower Sir Steve Redgrave presented him with his medal.

Maj Packer, 36, hopes to raise £1m for soldiers' charity Help For Heroes.

After completing the course, Maj Packer said: "It feels bitter sweet - I heard the news yesterday that four members of the armed forces were killed in Afghanistan, so I'm thinking about those families.

"I would not be standing here but for the work of the doctors and nurses that have looked after me and the reason for doing this is to raise £1m for them.

"It's not about me - it's about the people who are not walking with me.

"It's very humbling, I'm just a soldier and I'm not used to all this."

The officer, who lives in Westminster, central London, was told he would never walk again after he was injured in Basra in February 2008.

He suffered a bruised heart and damage to his ribs and chest, and lost the motor and sensory use of his legs.

'So passionate'

When planning to attempt walking the 26 miles and 385 yards of the marathon course Maj Packer was advised by doctors not to walk more than two miles a day, but he has said how lucky he feels to have any mobility back.

Earlier in the week he said he had realised over the course of the fortnight that the best way to complete the daily two miles was "to go as quickly as possible really for a couple of hours in the morning, and then a few more after quite a big break in the afternoon".

At the end of his two miles on Friday, the penultimate day of his race, he went to the Houses of Parliament as a guest of shadow defence secretary Dr Liam Fox.

Maj Packer has already undertaken a series of challenges, including rowing the English Channel in just over 15 hours and completing a sky dive.

He said: "Like the other thousands of fundraisers who support Help for Heroes, I have reasons for feeling so passionate about this charity.

"While in hospital I really needed something to pull me through some very dark and lonely days - Help for Heroes has done this and really helped me cope with what has happened."

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