Lisa Deacon’s life changed forever on June 3, 2017.

It was almost 10pm, on a warm summer’s night, and in a matter of minutes Lisa’s pleasant evening out in London with a friend was transformed into something truly horrific as three knife-wielding fanatics brought death and terror to the capital.

By the time it was over, eight people had been murdered, most of them stabbed to death. Dozens more were seriously injured.

The victims included 36-year-old Sebastien Belanger, a charismatic French national who was working in London as a chef.

Hearing the commotion outside the bar, Lisa and her friend rushed outside to see what had happened. She saw Sebastien on the ground, gravely injured.

Recently trained in first aid, Lisa rushed to his side and with another passer-by desperately tried to save him. Tragically, within five minutes, he had died.

Today, on the tragedy’s third anniversary, 33-year-old Lisa had hoped to make her second visit to Sebastien’s family - a plan scuppered by the pandemic.

Instead, she will cycle 341 miles - the distance from London Bridge to Angers, Sebastien’s home town, raising cash for the mental health charity Mind.

It will be both a tribute to Sebastien, and a bid to highlight a charity that helps people who like her have to battle with psychological trauma.

Recalling that dreadful night, she said: “I was aware throughout that we weren’t safe. But I had to try to help him. It wasn’t a question.

“After we’d got Sebastien on to the ambulance, I was left on my own. My friend had left earlier - the police had told her she had to get out of the area. It wasn’t safe.”

Later, as the emergency services took control, Lisa was unable to contact her friend. Alone, afraid, and bloodstained, she simply walked away.

“I walked for about half a mile and there was a pub still open,” she said.

“I went to the bathroom to clean up - there was quite a lot of blood on me. There was a girl in there who asked how I was - and I just burst into tears. That’s when it really set in.”

Lisa recalled how scared she felt.

That fear - and a deep-seated sense of vulnerability - has stayed with her. Only those who lived through such horrific events can fully understand.

“I couldn’t be left alone,” said Lisa, who was so traumatised she and her husband Michael opted for a fresh start in Carlisle.

“The people in the pub looked after me until my husband’s friend drove into London to come and pick me up from the pub.

“I was scared the whole way home. I didn’t sleep that night. For the next week, I physically couldn’t eat: I was in fight or flight mode for that whole time.”

Her mind had been in “danger mode,” ready to make her run, a psychologist later told her. Gradually, Lisa returned to an outwardly ‘normal’ life, eating again, and going to work. But the trauma was always just under the surface.

“In that first week, I’d just sit there, sort of numb, unable to speak,” she said.

Whitehaven News: Lisa Deacon, a first aider who tried to save a victim in the London Bridge terror attack in June 2017, pictured with Sebastien Belanger's familyLisa Deacon, a first aider who tried to save a victim in the London Bridge terror attack in June 2017, pictured with Sebastien Belanger's family

However determined she was to move on, the bad memories kept flooding back, the flashbacks triggered by simple things - the sound of a police siren or even the word London. And the anniversary.

“Things started getting a bit worse about a month ago,” said Lisa.

“The nightmares started coming back again; I was having flashbacks; then it all calmed down again.

“Everything becomes familiar again.It feels as if you’re right back there. The smells, the warmth, the temperatures; even the light, the noises, everything. It sort of overwhelms you - and takes you straight back. You feel like you’re there again.”

Thankfully, Lisa says she can now live normally, though the psychological scars remain. “The triggers I used to have are not too bad now,” she said.

“I can hear a siren without freaking out, or crying. I’ve had lots of therapy to help.”

She is also making some sense of that day - and finding positives in the horror.

She met Sebastien’s girlfriend and his cousin and friend at the place where he died, showing them he was not alone that day; and in 2018 she celebrated his life during a visit to his home in France.

“I found out how much he loved life,” she said.

“I met his girlfriend; she was lovely. She spoke about the holidays they’d had; the type of smile he’d give her. Sebastien became a whole person rather than what I was remembering.”

Asked about life now, Lisa said: “I take each day as it comes. Things do get better. The stigma around mental health is getting better. It’s okay not to be okay; and it’s okay to ask for help.”

To find out more about Lisa’s fundraiser, log on to her JustGiving Page.