Burnham-On-Sea’s rescue hovercraft was called out by Coastguards on New Year’s Eve amid concern for the welfare of a walker seen far out on the mudflats.

BARB Search & Rescue’s volunteers launched the charity’s Spirit of Lelaina 2 hovercraft at 2.20pm and flew out to check on the man’s safety after a seafront walker had raised the alarm.

“The crew were relieved to find the man was a fisherman collecting bait at the water’s edge who was not in difficulty,” said a BARB spokesman.

“Fortunately, this was a false alarm with good intent. We are always happy to respond to incidents like this where there is concern for safety – we much prefer to be called out to check on someone rather than find out too late than they are in fact in a life-threatening position.”

A Burnham Coastguard spokesman added: “With the cold winds and low temperature of the mud if someone was in difficulty they would not have long before hypothermia had set in, so this was a good call by the first informant.” The RNLI also sent a lifeboat to the seafront.