Two years ago go further’s Paul Tattersall was part of the team that helped Phil Packer realise his dream of climbing El Capitan to raise money for injured service personnel and the wider disabled community. Phil Packer was injured in Iraq. El Cap in Yosemite is one of the worlds most sought-after multi-day rock ascents. To mark the anniversary Phil has launched BRIT – the British Inspiration Trust, an organisation dedicated to providing opportunities to enthuse young people who face adversity.
Launching BRIT Phil Packer said:
“Two years ago this month I completed my El Capitan climb in the United States of America. The climb was both an ending and a beginning for me. In a sense I came full circle. By the time I completed the climb I had finished the three big challenges I had set up in order to raise £1.3 million for our wounded. After my injury and during my recovery I needed something positive to focus on and the germination of the idea for the challenges came after being inspired by elite athlete Paula Craig to complete the London Marathon in a wheelchair and my visit to the Help for Heroes office. That was the time when I put the two things together and decided to raise the funds. I fully recognized that on one level it was selfless, on another it gave me a focus which was selfish as it helped my transition into my new life and come to terms with my injury.
The climb was the culmination of the challenges and so many people helped out along the way. The climb, however, allowed me to connect with an amazing group of men who not only worked together to help me, but became great friends. It is no secret that before the climb I was not particularly fond of heights, but in order to raise the necessary funds to reach my goal I needed to challenge myself as well as others. Andy Kirkpatrick, team leader, is an experienced climber, who is calm, laid back, meticulous, and hilarious.
Andy was joined by some of Great Britain’s best climbers; Ian Parnell, Paul Tattersall and Ben Benedict-Pritchard. To be fair, taking a novice climber up a sheer rock face the magnitude of El Capitan is not for the faint hearted. As experienced climbers they knew better than me the risks we might encounter and the inherent danger of such a climb. Yet they never said, “no, you can’t do it”, instead they focused on finding solutions to each issue we encountered. There were numerous logistics to work out along with their doing their utmost to insure safety for the entire team. One of the unique hurdles we faced was actually getting me up the mountain in such a way that my back would be supported. The guys came up with the idea of using a paragliding chair and we tried it out on an indoor rock wall before deciding it would work.
Working together with Andy, Ian, Paul and Ben was a wonderful experience for me. They encouraged and were my inspiration to get up that mountain. I achieved a personal and fund raising goal yet more importantly it solidified in my mind the value of working together as a team. As I mentioned earlier in this piece the climb was the culmination of my fundraising, but also the beginning of the British Inspiration Trust. During the long hours hauling myself up El Cap, I had time to reflect on my journey and started thinking about the many young people and their families that had spoken or written to me. Many of them were looking for inspiration to get beyond the dark stages in their lives. I wondered how different my life would have been had I been injured in my teens and would I have had the resources to successfully transition. That was when I made the tough decision to leave the military, a job I truly loved, for the unknown, setting up BRIT to help those young people and use inspiring people to allow them to regain their self-belief.
I am so glad I did the climb. I developed the idea for BRIT and made lifelong friends, who showed me that we can achieve so much more and get over any hurdle if we work together. Wherever Andy, Ian, Paul and Ben are right now – thank you. I haven’t forgotten you and will never forget our climb. It changed my life and so did you.”
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