Peter Andrew Carruthers (1949 – 2019) was involved in a road accident that caused a C7 lesion (a change caused by injury or disease).

Early Life

Brought up in North Yorkshire, Peter attended Roundhay Grammar School in Leeds before moving to London when he was 17. 

Later Peter and his wife, Sheila, embarked on a lengthy world tour visiting many countries, travelling through Turkey, Pakistan, Thailand and Indonesia amongst others before reaching Darwin, Australia. From there they travelled to Perth, Melbourne and Sydney before setting up temporary home in Alice Springs where Peter played rugby league. 

Their route continued to New Zealand and the USA before they returned home to North Yorkshire. Peter was in the first week of his new job when he was involved in the accident which left him tetraplegic, a full-time wheelchair user. 

Peter played both Rugby Union and Rugby League.

Life as a Paralympic Athlete

Peter, always a keen sportsman, wanted to continue with an active lifestyle but soon found the available wheelchairs were not designed for speed and were very heavy. With Sheila, he adapted an Everest & Jennings chair on their kitchen table, initially to make it easier to push. 

Having moved to Loughborough for access to good training facilities and competition, in 1983 they established Bromakin Wheelchairs, developing specialist chairs for track and road racing, basketball and rugby. Using his design expertise he introduced lightweight materials into the construction of racing wheelchairs. Read more

The origin of the Bromakin name as explained by Peter –

Lots of people ask us about the name, where did it come from? What does it mean?

When we started the business we were stumped for a name, it was my brother who suggested using the name of the old farmhouse in North Yorkshire where my mother grew up, so Bromakin Grange became Bromakin Wheelchairs

Peter also played wheelchair rugby for the East Midlands Marauders (known as Marauder Tigers Wheelchair Rugby Club after merging with Leicester Tigers Wheelchair Rugby in 2013).

Recollections

See and hear Peter talking about the importance of exercise here.

In tribute to Peter, Nick Webborn, chair of the British Paralympic Association (BPA), said

Peter was an inspirational character and a legend in the wheelchair racing and rugby communities and is a sad loss to the movement. His work in advancing sports chair and wheelchair design is also a huge legacy and helped so many of our community. His achievements were extraordinary, his contribution immense, and he will be sorely missed.

Retirement as a Paralympic Athlete

In the late 1980s Peter began a long involvement with Loughborough University, supporting PhD student Ian Campbell, in the first UK study of the physiology of wheelchair racing. He is credited with ‘providing invaluable support and advice to the Peter Harrison Centre, its staff and its research’. 2015 saw him become involved in a project to develop science-based exercise guidelines for people with spinal cord injuries and he is said to have ‘provided a unique and invaluable perspective’ to the team. The guidelines can be found here.

The Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport at Loughborough University was established in 2005, and focuses on research in Sports Performance and Health & Wellbeing.   

He was also Chairman of the British Wheelchair Racing Association (BWRA).

Achievements and awards

Paralympic Games

Representing Great Britain at three Paralympic Summer Games, starting with Stoke Mandeville & New York 1984, he went on to Seoul 1988 where he won gold in the Men's 100 m 1B with a world record time of 20.39 seconds and at Barcelona 1992 set national records in three track events.

Other Sporting Events

Peter had a long and successful racing career, completing more than 50 marathons and many more half marathons and 10kms.

Other awards and recognition

Recognised in the Queen’s New Years Honours List in 1997 Peter was awarded an MBE For services to Sport for People with Disabilities. 

On the 14th July 1988 Peter was awarded an honorary Master of Arts (MA) by Loughborough University. Read the speech introducing him here

In 2009 Bromakin Wheelchairs won Retailer of the Year at the British Healthcare Trades Association awards. 

References

  • https://www.bromakin.co.uk/index.php/bromakin-people/our-story
  • https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/54625/page/11
  • https://paralympics.org.uk/articles/peter-carruthers-mbe-a-statement-from-the-bpa
  • https://www.lboro.ac.uk/service/publicity/degree_days/degree_1998/carruthers.html
  • https://www.lboro.ac.uk/media/media/research/phc/downloads/newsletters/76047%20PHC%20Newsletter%20Template%20V3%20p12.pdf
  • https://www.lboro.ac.uk/research/phc/
  • https://www.alltogethernow.org.uk/wheelchair-boss-earns-another-podium-finish/
  • https://leicestershire146.rssing.com/chan-4262425/all_p245.html