University of Sunderland professor overcomes accident which caused him to be paralysed to pen new book

A professor from the city’s university who was left paralysed from the neck down after a tragic accident, has penned a book about overcoming his adversity, including continuing to follow his passion for punk rock music.

In 2016, professor Peter Smith’s life changed for ever after he fell down the stairs of his home while making his way back to his bedroom. He broke his back and was left paralysed from the neck down.

Despite the obvious challenges this created, Peter, 65, who has worked at the University of Sunderland for over 30 years, has continued to teach and support students with their studies.

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The book, My Travels Through the Maelstrom of Punk Rock, chronicles his musical journey during the 70s advent of punk rock, to overcoming the tragedy and pain of his accident and continuing to attend gigs and enjoy the music he loves most.

Peter, who was born and brought up in Sunderland, cited seeing what were then an “emerging group call the Sex Pistols at a pub in Whitby” as the catalyst for his musical love affair.

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He added: “From then on, we were caught up in a whirlwind of punk rock, seeing The Clash, The Damned, The Jam; all the early punk bands during 1976 and 1977.

"It was a magical, explosive and sometimes scary journey. Amidst a sea of punks, my long hair stood out, attracting trouble and tempting danger. We managed to avoid many fights as pint glasses flying around. Life was dangerous, wired, scary yet fun.”

Professor Peter Smith. Picture: DAVID WOOD

The book also covers the emotional journey following Peter’s fall which which left him needing 24-hour care, which was followed three years later by the death of his wife Marie, from cancer.

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Yet despite this, Peter has continued to seek solace in the music he loves, including penning his book.

He said: “I continue to go to gigs, work, and live a full life. This book is a cathartic reflection of my days as a punk and I hope readers enjoy joining me on my journey through a strange life mission."

Professor Peter Smith's new book.
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Peter has worked at the university as a lecturer in Mathematics and Computer Science and was also given Honorary Doctorate of Technology for his achievements.

The book can be purchased from the New Haven Publishing Ltd website.