Last in the marathon, but still a winner

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A soldier who was told he would never walk again after being wounded in Iraq completed the London Marathon yesterday.

Major Phil Packer crossed the finish line after 26.2 miles – more than 52,000 steps – and described the moment as "bitter-sweet", reflecting on the deaths in Afghanistan this week of four fellow servicemen.

Major Packer, 36, may have taken almost two weeks to reach the finishing tape in St James's Park, central London, yesterday, but his journey began a year ago, when he started his fight to recover from paralysis after being injured in an ambush in Iraq.

A former Royal Military Police officer who served in Bosnia, Kosovo and Northern Ireland, he lost the use of his legs in a rocket attack in Basra in February 2008. His efforts have so far raised more than £700,000 towards his goal of £1m for the Help for Heroes campaign in support of troops wounded in action.