A MAJOR operation was launched to find a vulnerable pensioner who had been reported missing from home.

Police, firefighters and mountain rescue volunteers were scrambled to find the 79-year-old man on Friday night.

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Around 30 volunteers from the Rossendale and Pendle and Bolton mountain rescue teams found the confused man sat in a field off Red Lane, Colne, in the pitch black.

The volunteers have been praised with helping to save the man's life who is believed to have been sat in the cold for several hours.

The pensioner, who is from Foulridge, was treated at the scene by paramedics but did not require hospital treatment.

PC Nigel Keates said: “The search operation lasted over six hours and the missing man was located safe and well by mountain rescue.

"This was due to their vast search expertise, dedication and professionalism.

"The man was found in a field off Red Lane, but the view was obscured by a wall and it was pitch black.

"Without the physical boots on the ground he may not have been found for several more hours. By that point it could have been too late.

“A heartfelt thank you to the mountain rescue teams and the fire service who attended from all over the county and further. This was another great example of multi-agency partnerships which are going from strength to strength."

A spokesman for Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue Team said: "We were called at 6.45pm by the police saying there was a 79-year-old high risk missing person in the Colne area.

"Our team have deployed with a search and rescue dog.

"We have conducted a search around the Red Lane area of Colne where he was last seen walking. At around 11.15pm who was found in a field just off Red Lane. He was cold and wet but he was otherwise fine.

"It was a massive search and there were 30 volunteers out looking for him.

"The police helicopter was requested at one stage but where he was found was very close to a wall and it was pitch black. It was a job which required physical searching.

"I would like to praise the work of the volunteers who did a fantastic job in finding this vulnerable man."