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Obituary: Peter Banyard (LI 1960-64)

My friend Peter Banyard, who has died aged 70, lived for 50 years as a tetraplegic following an accident suffered as an officer cadet in the Royal Green Jackets. Although he had to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life, he succeeded in carving out a career as a journalist, historian and director of the charity Spinal Research.

Born in Kolkata (then Calcutta), he was the second son of Peter and Deirdre Banyard. His father was a tea broker who continued to work in India after independence, then the family moved to the UK, where Peter was educated at Marlborough college andCambridge University, where he studied history.

After university he joined the army, almost immediately suffering the accident that almost cost him his life and meant that he required constant care. He spent several years in hospital, followed by a long period of rehabilitation, during which, despite his limited dexterity, he gradually learned the skills not only to become a successful journalist and author, but also to drive, erratically, a specially adapted car.

Peter’s work as a historian and journalist included a history of the tea trade and the internationally successful Natural Wonders of the World (1978) which looked at the scientific explanations for the formation of some of nature’s greatest landmarks. In later years, from 2006 to 2013, he was publications editor for the Association of Lloyds Members, writing knowledgably and irreverently on the world of finance.

He became central to the growth of Spinal Research, and during his 16 years with the charity he helped raise substantial sums that financed a worldwide research effort into spinal cord injuries. Funds raised through his efforts included the biggest ever grant made by the Injured Jockeys Fund.

During his time with the charity he worked as research director, chief executive, and then director of development. His particular skill was to deploy humour, clarity and deep personal understanding of the effects of spinal trauma in a way that bridged the gap between research scientists and potential funders.

Peter maintained a wide circle of friends from his days at school and university, as well as from his long and varied working life. He is survived by his nephew, George.

Alex Baird

(reprinted with permission from the Guardian)