An elderly man who went missing in Mullion during a raging storm was close to death when he was discovered at 2am suffering from hypothermia.

The family of Terry Keen have now thanked the emergency services for their efforts in finding him, saying "the situation could be very different" if it were not for the dedication of volunteers in challenging conditions.

Cheryl Keen, his ex wife, said: "I honestly just can't say thank you enough to everybody. I know it's what they do but when you're looking for somebody that is part of your life and they find them, it's just amazing.

"Even people we didn't know were out looking for him. There were so many people out. I'm just amazed anyone found him, but thankful they did. They were brilliant.

"He would have been very close to death if they hadn't have found him."

Mr Keen, who is 82 and has dementia, had been missing for eight hours when he was found following a three-hour search involving coastguard rescue teams from Mullion and Porthleven, the police, sniffer dogs, the coastguard search and rescue helicopter and Cornwall Search and Rescue Team overnight, as well as his three children, last Wednesday into Thursday.

He was only discovered by chance, fallen in a remote field, just as the coastguards were about to wind down their search and hand over to the search and rescue teams.

Having split into pairs for a final look while they waited to hand over, Mullion coastguards Howard Pickett and Richard Haycock ultimately tracked him down, kneeling in a large field at the end of Garrow Lane, by the cricket club. The frame he uses to walk had fallen over and it is not known how long he had been there, wearing just a tracksuit in the pouring wind and rain of Storm Charlotte.

Mr Pickett, who lives just a road behind Mr Keen, said something was almost drawing him to continue further down the lane, despite there being no houses or lights, or him believing the pensioner would have even made it that far due to his mobility problems.

He told the Packet: "Along the lane there's a load of empty barns and outbuildings, so we were checking in them. We got to the end and there was a field with a big slope; I had my torch scanning up and down and literally at my last point of turning around I saw this outline of him on his knees.

"If he had fallen over and laid down in the field I probably wouldn't have seen him because the grass was so long.

"He wasn't very communicative; he looked a bit dazed and was frozen solid. He only had a tracksuit on and no protective clothing."

Mr Pickett gave his own coat to Mr Keen, wrapping his scarf around the elderly man's head and placing his hands in his armpits to keen warm while they waited for a stretcher to return him home, where paramedics treated him with hot water bottles and foil survival blankets.

His temperature had dropped to just 34.2 degrees, mild hypothermia level, but after warming back up to 36.8 degrees he was allowed to stay home, where he has received daily checks by a doctor.

Mr Pickett, who day-to-day runs his own business HDP Plumbing and Property Maintenance, said living in the village and knowing of Mr Keen had given him an even greater drive to find him.

"Even if they had called off our search I probably would have joined the search and rescue; it's more personal when you know the person," he added.

"If feels good [finding him] because obviously it's another life saved."

Mrs Keen believed her former husband had been attempting to visit his dog Oliver - who had subsequently gone to live with a friend in the village due to Mr Keen's ailing health - when he left home at 2.45pm, but he had missed the turning and ended up in the field.

The search area had extended to Polurrian, Mullion Cove and the surrounding cliff paths, but both Mrs Keen and Mr Pickett said they had always felt "convinced" Mr Keen was close by - and in the event in he was discovered less than 300 metres from home.

Although he is still suffering from some after-effects of the ordeal, Mrs Keen said: "As long as he's alive, that's the main thing."