CRY Patron Phil Packer's "26" Marathon challenge

CRY Patron Phil Packer embarked upon a new London Marathon challenge for 2010 – walking the 26 mile course in 26 hours for 26 charities. Phil walked each mile with a ‘support walker’ from each participating charity in turn. CRY supporter and Surgery Supporters Network member, Laura John, joined Phil for one mile of the challenge, and all 26 charity support walkers walked the final 365 yards with Phil to cross the finish line together.

CRY would like to congratulate Phil and Laura on the successful completion of the “26” marathon challenge.

Please donate to support Phil and help CRY to reach our “26” fundraising target by clicking here

philpacker26photo“As a Patron of Cardiac Risk in the Young I have had the humbling opportunity to meet the remarkable young people who have been diagnosed with a life threatening cardiac condition and also the many families who have been affected through the tragedy of losing loved ones through sudden cardiac death. CRY aims to prevent young sudden cardiac death and more support to the charity will result in more screening to find heart abnormalities which otherwise may go unnoticed. I will be walking the CRY mile with Laura John. Laura was 4 years old when her father, David, died suddenly at work aged 32. When Laura’s mother, Julie, was watching a Panorama special about sudden death two years later, it was explained that most forms of sudden death are hereditary. This led to Julie fighting to ensure Laura and her sister, Danielle, were referred to an expert and tested. At the time, Laura was terrified and there wasn’t anyone talk to who was going through the same thing. When Laura was 10 she was fitted with an ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator) and it was fantastic, allowing Laura to do so much more. Danielle and Laura became founder members of CRY’s Surgery Supporters Network and Laura and I hope that walking the mile together, we will raise the profile of the vital support needed to ensure that in the 15th Anniversary year of CRY’s existence, you will donate to fund future screening for young people with undiagnosed life threatening cardiac conditions.” Phil Packer

Donations made in support of Phil’s “26” challenge will fund CRY’s Research Fellow programme, which is essential to the services we offer (CRY’s three current Research Fellows are pictured below).

For every £1 donated to fund a Research Fellow:

  • 50p will fund fast track screening services for families who have been affected by young sudden cardiac death.
  • 30p will fund medical research into young sudden cardiac death.
  • 20p will fund our national screening programme for young people (aged 14-35 years).

£100,000 will fund a Research Fellow for 2 years. CRY funds doctors who choose to specialise in the field of inherited cardiac diseases, sudden cardiac death, screening and sports cardiology. The research that they produce advances our understanding of conditions that can lead to sudden cardiac death.Over 2 years, a CRY funded Research Fellow will:Facilitate 500 fast-track referrals to the CRY Inherited Cardiovascular Disease clinics St George’s Hospital, London. At these fast-track clinics families can be seen within a few weeks of referral after the sudden death of a family member.Publish at least 2 peer reviewed articles in leading journals and present their research at international conferences.Support the screening of 4,000 people.

To make a donation, please click here

Official Press Release

philpackerpatronPhil Packer, who suffered severe spinal cord injuries in 2008 and has raised over £1.3million for charity by rowing the English Channel, walking the London Marathon over 14 days and hauling himself up El Capitan (over 4250 pull ups in 3 days) all within a six month period last year, will attempt to walk this year’s Virgin London Marathon in 26 hours for 26 charities.

At 1000 hrs on Sunday 25th April, Phil will start the Virgin London Marathon and finish 26 hours later at 1200 hrs on Monday 26th April. To continue his intent and aim to inspire young people with disability, deprived young people and to support injured service personnel, he will walk each mile with a Support Walker between the ages of 16 and 25 who will be nominated by each charity and all whom will have received direct support from their charity.

Phil has continued to enthuse and motivate millions and last year received the Helen Rollason Award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards and the Pride of Britain Fundraiser of the Year.

Phil says: “My own personal journey over the past two years and the relationships I have established with a number of charities, young people with disabilities and their families, has increased my knowledge and understanding of the challenges those living with disability face daily. The outpouring of public support, whilst serving to highlight the need to support our injured, only scratches the surface of the wider support needed to assist those that endure huge physical and mental challenges within our country every day.

“My intent is to ask Young People with Disabilities to join me in supporting my future plan to build the British Inspiration Trust, and for their charities and support groups to partner with me. To fully understand exactly what young people need, I asked for representatives from 26 charities to join me as my official support walker as I complete the 2010 Virgin London Marathon in 26 hours. My partnering charities, all of which support young people with disabilities, young deprived people or injured service personnel, will also be invited to assist me with their knowledge in running the Centre.

“The aim is for all the charities to use my 26 hour Marathon opportunity to raise awareness and funds over 26 days, beginning the 1st of April and ending the 26th of April. They have all agreed that this 26 day fundraising period will be their Main Effort for April. The last 365 yards of the Virgin London Marathon will see all 26 young people from the charities joining me as we cross the finish line together.

“There is a clear need to provide inspiration and hope to young people. On completion of the Marathon, I am concentrating my efforts on building a multi-million pound, eco-friendly British Centre of Excellence. The Centre, dynamic and unique, will be a conduit to enthuse and inspire Young People with Disabilities, including our injured service personnel, between the ages of 16 and 25. The British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) will serve not only as a hub of British Inspiration, but will provide a legacy for generations of young people. I will build it by 2012.

“With increasing support from Young People and Young People with Disabilities joining me in my Quest, my intent is to gain the support of Government, Businesses through their Corporate Social Responsibilities strategies and the public to assist me in delivering a British “Beacon of Inspiration” to improve Quality of Life. I will launch BRIT later this year with the support of the National Media.”

“26”, a unique Virgin London Marathon opportunity, is Phil’s next challenge and the start of the pathway towards building BRIT.

For more information on Phil’s remarkable challenge, go to

Laura John’s Story

ljohnppWhen I was 4 years old, my father David died suddenly at work, leaving my mother Julie looking after myself and my older sister Danielle. My Dad was 32 and according to the coroner ‘perfectly fit and healthy’. All my mother was told was that he had died of heart failure but that there was no apparent reason for this. Being only 4 years old, I didn’t quite understand how serious this was, I assumed that it was just one of those things that happen.

It wasn’t until 2 years later when my mother was watching a Panorama special about Sudden Death that the lives of me and my sister were completely turned upside down. It turns out that most forms of sudden death are hereditary. Around the same time as this my Uncle had been diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome and it was decided that me and Danielle should be tested too.

It took some time for this to actually happen, my mum had to fight against the Health Authority for Danielle and I to be referred to an expert in London, but in the end we were tested and found to have Long QT syndrome. We were introduced to CRY who could help my mother with understanding about our condition and gave her the support she needed. But for a six year old to understand was not easy. The only thing I knew about this condition was that it had killed my Dad.

What made it worse was that on seeing a Cardiologist back in Southampton he told my mum a whole load of things I wouldn’t be allowed to do. I was terrified, Danielle was frustrated and Mum became over protective. We managed but it was hard. There wasn’t anyone at the time we could talk to who was going through the same thing. Danielle began blacking out, and this only made it scarier.

When I was 10 I had an ICD fitted and it was fantastic. It eased mum’s mind and allowed me and Danielle to do more ‘normal things’ (That said, now I tend to use my defib’ as an excuse to do more than perhaps I should). It was a year or two after this that Danielle and I became founder members of CRY’s Surgery Supporters Network. Finally we had other people to talk to who were our age and going through similar things. It was so comforting to know that not only were there people I could turn to, but that others in the future would be able to turn to me too.

When I talk to people about having this condition, they always ask me the same questions: ‘Doesn’t it scare you?’, ‘How did you change your life to fit around it?’ etc. The answers have changed since I was younger, but I’ve grown up with this, I don’t remember a time when I was unaware of it. I would say that I don’t take life for granted, but that I use my heart condition as an excuse to do so much more than I should, simply because I can. I am so indebted to CRY, not only for all the support they have given me and my family, but because of all the opportunities they have given me as well. I don’t know many other people who have been able to toss the coin at Wimbledon (in 2004, below) am so proud to have been chosen to be Phil Packer’s support walker for CRY for the “26” marathon challenge.











The whole thing has been one huge adventure, and as scared as I was, it’s made me who I am. I’m just looking forward to what I get to do next……

Press and Media Enquiries

In the first instance, to encourage support from the International and National Media to the 26 charities, please contact the respective media contacts at each charity. For CRY, the Media Contact is: Jo Hudson – E-mail: Tel: 07958 252081

For all Phil’s Virgin London Marathon Media Enquiries, please contact: Sally Arnold, Ketchum Pleon, 34 – 41 Folgate Street, London, E1 6BX. Tel: 0207 611 3500. Direct: 0207 611 3545. E-mail:

For all other Media and Management Enquiries relating to Phil, please contact: Richard W. Thompson, Chairman, Merlin Elite Limited, Hammersmith Studios, 55 Yeldham Road, London, W6 8JF. Tel: 0208 834 8900. Fax: 0208 834 8901. Web: E-mail: