The chief executive of Cumbria County Council has paid tribute to the area’s mountain rescuers after a man suffered life-changing injuries while on a rescue mission.

Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team member Chris Lewis, 60, fell 150 metres on rough steep ground while responding to a call from wild campers at Red Screes, above Kirkstone Pass on February 6. It has been reported he will never walk again.

Speaking at a meeting of the full council yesterday, Katherine Fairclough praised the work of the volunteers who keep people safe on and around the fells across the county – and condemned people breaching coronavirus restrictions during lockdown.

She said: “It saddens me that some people think it’s okay to break the rules of lockdown, putting themselves in danger but also risking the lives of others and, on this occasion, it’s resulted in such significant life-changing injuries for someone who gave up his own time to provide a heroic and life-saving service.

"I've written to the mountain rescue service myself just last week to pass on our support and also to thank them for their continuing incredible hard work as part of the Covid response.

"The county council and its partners continue to work hard to communicate to people the current rules around lockdown restrictions.

"We do know how hard that is for everybody but we're hopeful that in time it will be worthwhile and we'll all see the benefits as life starts to return to some kind of regular way of living.

"Our thoughts and best wishes are with Chris at the moment, his family and his friends and of course his colleagues."

A fundraising page set up online to support Mr Lewis and his family has raised more than £700,000.

Richard Warren, chairman of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, said: "Support has poured in from all corners of the county and further afield since the accident, with people sending well wishes in droves."