A DISABLED councillor has urged people not to take the ‘life-saving’ work of the Great North Air Ambulance for granted.

Cllr Will Clark suffered a serious spinal injury in July 2012 when a stick caught in his bicycle spokes during a Cystic Fibrosis charity triathlon above Thirlmere in aid of his cousin.

Despite wearing a helmet, the freak accident sent him over the handlebars and his neck took the full force of the impact, leaving him with little movement below the shoulders.

In an address to a full meeting of the county council, Cllr Clark, the Liberal Democrat member for the Lakes, urged councillors to spread the word about the charity, which receives no Government funding.

Between April last year and March this year, it had flown 468 missions in Cumbria, including 165 road traffic incidents, 88 falls and more than 60 cardiac arrests, he said.

Despite perceptions it operated out of the North East, it has a base at Langwathby near Penrith and remains committed to helping rescue those injured across the Lake District and the county’s roads, he said.

Cllr Clark was taken to the Newcastle RVI – a specialist major trauma unit – within 30 minutes by the GNAA, having faced the prospect of a two-hour journey by road had the service not existed.

Cllr Clark told them: “I sometimes wonder how things would have been had it not been for the early intervention of the Great North Air Ambulance.

“The GNAA brings the best pre-hospital medical care to the scene of an accident very quickly. We never know if, or when, we might need the service but it’s certainly something we take for granted.

“It’s not a service that we want to need but keeping it fully operational means the charity has to raise over £5m per annum and there’s no Government funding.

“Last month alone the Great North Air Ambulance attended 50 incidents across Cumbria. There are a number of ways to support this charity, whether it’s a sponsored event, regular giving or playing the organisation’s prize draw.

“The charity is always looking for locations for charity boxes and often I will share my experiences with groups such as the Rotary, Round Table and Women’s Institute.”

He called on councillors to be proud of the Pride of Cumbria – the helicopter serving the area.

“For a number of individuals, including myself, it means the difference between life and death,” said Cllr Clark.

The council chamber in Kendal applauded his speech.

Cllr Phil Dew called him an ‘inspirational living example’ of those who turn an adverse experience into something positive.

Cllr Dew, the Conservative member for Kirkby Stephen, said: “I do always feel privileged to meet Will and hear what he has to say.”