A man who sparked a mass rescue operation from emergency services when he was spotted clinging to his kayak in open sea had driven down from Leicester, it has been revealed.

As previously reported by the Packet yesterday, a kayaker was airlifted to hospital from Poldhu yesterday morning suffering from extreme hypothermia.

He was only saved after John Geach, head chef at Poldhu Care Home, saw something floating out to sea and contacted the coastguard.

Now it has been revealed that he had been staying in the area in his vehicle, before going out on his own.

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Speaking to BBC Radio Cornwall, James Instance, rescue centre manager at Falmouth Maritime and Rescue Coordination Centre, said: "The person had driven down from Leicester, had spent time in his car, had then gone out in a kayak on his own.

"No way of raising the alarm; if he hadn't been spotted by that one member of the public it is almost certain we would have been dealing with a fatality.

"All of those safety measures we ask people to take were just overlooked. Didn't take due care and attention of where they were going in. Didn't look at the conditions . Didn't tell anybody else where they were going. Didn't have any way of raising the alarm at all.

"It's just through the good actions of somebody else that that person isn't dead."

He said this was the coastguard services's fear over the coming days, that people saw the sunny weather now that lockdown conditions had been eased and would go out without proper precautions, when the lifeguard cover had not been reinstated.

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He acknowledged that people would be "desperate to get back in the water" but urged people to take proper measures, check tides and conditions, not take on risks or new challenges, make sure they always had a life jacket and had a way of communicating if they were in trouble.

Rescuers of the man, who was left clinging to his upturned kayak in the sea for more than a hour, said there was "absolutely no doubt" his life had been saved as a result of the rescue operation.

Mullion Coastguard Rescue Team was first paged to Gunwalloe at 9.46am, following reports of an "object" in the sea, around 1.5 miles off the coast.

This was confirmed to be some form of empty boat or solid object and Penlee Lifeboat was asked to investigate further.

Read more: Floating 'object' at sea discovered as a man with severe hypothermia

The volunteer crew of the Atlantic 85 Inshore lifeboat ‘Mollie and Ivor Dent’ launched from Newlyn with James Roberts at the helm and crew members Amy Smith and Andrew ‘Woody’ Wood onboard.

Initially tasked to investigate reports of a small unmanned vessel drifting in the sea about half-a-mile south of Gunwalloe, it soon became clear it was a lot more serious.

A Penlee spokesperson said: "Mullion Coastguard Rescue Team were on the shore but were not able to physically see the unmanned vessel. However, they directed the inshore lifeboat to the area where the first sighting had been made.

"At 11.25am the crew spotted something in the water about one mile offshore, just west of Poldhu Cove.

Falmouth Packet:

The crew of the Penlee Lifeboat. Photo: Penlee RNLI

"On closer examination they found that it was an upturned camouflaged fishing kayak, which had been secured to a crab pot dan - the male occupant of the kayak, who was partly submerged in freezing cold water, was desperately clinging on to his upturned kayak.

"He had been in this position for over an hour."

With the casualty taken onboard the lifeboat, the man was checked over, given oxygen and placed in an exposure bag to start warming him up, as it was clear that he was suffering from hypothermia.

As immediate first aid was taking place on the lifeboat, the coastguard rescue helicopter 924 was scrambled and the Mullion Coastguard Rescue Team regrouped at Poldhu Cove, where the inshore lifeboat headed.

The kayaker was then airlifted to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro for further treatment.

The lifeboat spokesperson added: "There is absolutely no doubt that this was a life saved and yet again it demonstrates the dedication, professionalism and team work of our lifeboat crew, HM Coastguard Operations Centre, Mullion Coastguard Rescue Team and the crew of Rescue 924."