While serving in the Royal Marines he volunteered for a 6-month tour with the United Nations as a Peace Keeper in war-torn Sierra Leone. Rebel forces brought the mission to a violent and bloody end when they restarted the country's civil war, turning on the UN's representatives, torturing and butchering them and taking over 500 hostages. Phil and other UN workers found themselves in the middle of this ambush and surrounded in a small compound.
After four days of physical and psychological bombardment, including throwing the blood-stained uniforms of fellow UN workers over the walls they realised there was no hope of rescue. Phil came up with a daring escape plan, and the decision was made to risk being killed trying to escape rather than be taken alive.
At 2.45 am the next morning, faces blackened with charcoal, he led his team over the wall. They were surrounded by rebel troops and outnumbered by at least twenty to one and were completely unarmed. Their chances of escaping alive were very slim. Despite trekking day and night through some of the world's toughest jungle terrain for almost a week without food or water, Phil found the courage and strength to lead his colleagues on a daring and dramatic race to freedom through the hostile jungle. He was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal for his actions.
On his return to Britain, he was rushed to hospital, paralysed from the waist down. He had brought home a memento of the West African jungle in the form of a virus lodged in his spinal cord. He has had to face a whole new set of challenges personally and professionally, even re-learning how to walk as he has come to terms with long term disability. He has now recovered almost entirely and is only numb from the knee downwards, which hasn't stopped him being as active as ever.
Born and brought up on the West Coast of Scotland, Phil has always had a taste for adventure. He won a scholarship to Glenalmond College, Perthshire and was a talented gymnast and musician. His parents contemplated sending him to ballet school, but instead he discovered rock climbing and was quickly mastering some of Scotland's hardest extreme rock climbs, before finding another physical career as a Royal Marine Commando.
Commissioned into The Royal Marines at just seventeen and a half, making him the youngest officer in HM Armed Forces, he won his Green Beret one-week after his 18th birthday. Phil was sponsored by the Marines to read Engineering at Pembroke College, Cambridge. He has climbed all over the world and survived an epic 2-man rowing expedition in the Arctic Ocean. This was the first - and only - human-powered circumnavigation of the polar island of Spits Bergen. One thousand miles of rowing through ice floes for eight weeks in a 17-foot, open-topped wooden boat. He survived becoming trapped in the pack ice, a polar bear attack, hurricane force winds and capsizing in icy water.
Phil was involved in BBC TV's 'SAS-Survival Secrets' and he helped lead an expedition of youngsters for BBC TV's award winning 'Serious Arctic'. After a further fifteen months of Royal Marines officer training in 1992, Phil won the Commando medal for 'Leadership, Unselfishness, Cheerfulness, Determination and Courage'.
In 1995 Phil was selected to join the elite Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre, completing eleven months of arduous Mountain Leader training, the longest and hardest infantry course in the British Armed Forces. He is also a qualified Jungle Warfare instructor. He has served in command of Royal Marines around the world from the mountains of Alaska and Norway to the jungles of Brunei and Belize. He was promoted to Major at the age of 28, making him the youngest officer of that rank in the British Armed Forces. He has a Master's Degree in Defence Technology from Cambridge University.
Phil remains very humble about his accomplishments, but as a speaker he can really reach, move and entertain his audience. He is a natural storyteller who can adapt to suit any occasion. He is an accomplished journalist writing articles for a wide variety of publications including the Sunday Times, The Daily Mail and The Lancet