JOE Gilbert was lucky to be alive after a 200m fall on Helvellyn.

The 34-year-old, who was walking with with three friends, was left with permanent, life-changing injuries.

He broke his neck, kneecap, ankle, foot, shoulder and most of his ribs and also had a collapsed lung.

The eight-hour rescue involved two helicopters, 19 members of Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team.

"They somehow managed to keep me alive on the side of the freezing cold mountain.

"As I lay there unconscious and bleeding heavily, they professionally went about their business," said Joe.

"Without them I simply wouldn't be here."

Three years on, Joe, of Hackney, London, is now able to get back on his bike and he and five friends - The Helvellyn Flyers - have set themselves the challenge of cycling to Paris in aid of Patterdale MRT.

After 11 operations, three pints of blood, countless hours of physiotherapy and an awful lot of hard work, Joe was finally able to visit the team who saved his life last year.

He was also able to see how much kit, equipment and vehicles are needed by the team and learnt that the charity receives no government funding.

"It was a very humbling day," he said. "The team are driven, dedicated, knowledgeable and seriously hardworking. The amount of their free time they give to others is incredible.

"Without donations Patterdale MRT would not exist and neither would I."

Joe and the team are aiming to raise as much money as possible and will leave London on May 11.

Patterdale MRT needs to raise about £40,000 each year to ensure it is trained and equipped and can cover bills and insurance costs.

Visit to make a donation.