A FIREFIGHTER has beaten the odds by getting back underwater and scuba diving less than a year after the cycling accident that very nearly killed him.

Peter Lau, of Baildon, was the Assistant District Commander for West Yorkshire’s Fire and Rescue Service in Bradford and has been a passionate scuba diver and member of the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) for 25 years.

But a mountain bike accident in April 2014 left him paralysed from the chest down and dreaming of the day he could dive again.

Throughout repeated surgeries on his complex spinal injuries and intensive rehabilitation, the thought of getting back in the water helped keep Mr Lau positive about the future

The 49-year-old took the plunge for the first time last week, with club members from the BSAC branch West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Sub Aqua Section and said he was elated.

“It was absolutely amazing. Just fantastic," Mr Lau said.

" It’s something I’ve been dreaming about for 11 months and I vowed I would be back in the water within the year and I have achieved that which is brilliant.

“Just being there with all my mates from the diving club and my wife Debbie was diving with me to hold my hand it was quite emotional.

“We floated around for a bit and then went down under the water nice and slowly with complete control and it was like coming home,” said Mr Lau, who has two grown-up children.

His accident happened on in Wensleydale when his mountain bike collided with a car.

He broke 11 ribs, punctured both lungs, fractured his scapula and suffered massive spinal damage. Emergency medics had to induce a coma to protect his lungs and he remained in that state for almost a month before beginning the long road to recovery.

During time at Pinderfield Spinal Rehabilitation Centre his passion for watersports led him to start a snorkelling club in the hydrotherapy pool while he waited for doctors to give him the all clear to start diving once more - which he did at the John Charles Centre in Leeds.

After half an hour diving with friends from his BSAC group Mr Lau emerged to a hero’s poolside welcome and with a renewed determination to continue diving.

Mary Tetley, BSAC chief executive, said: “What an inspiration Peter is and he embodies the passion which our scuba divers feel for the sport."

Mr Lau, who dived with dolphins in the Red Sea before his accident said he was keen to get back into open water.

"Once I’ve had a few more sessions and worked my buoyancy out I’ll be sorting out a dry suit and trying a quarry and after that, who knows?

"The thing to remember is that you can suffer a terrible event like mine, but it is not something life-ending, just life-changing and you just have to find different ways to make things happen."

For more information about BSAC go to bsac.com or follow the organisation on Facebook or Twitter.

Mr Lau has a fundraising link for renovations to the specially adapted house he needs. For more information, please go to http://www.gofundme.com/dpaftc