VOLUNTEER lifeboat crews saved the life of a vulnerable man who fell from a small boat into the river Colne.

The 45-year-old, from Rowhedge, near Colchester, had taken to the water close to the village’s The Anchor pub, in High Street, in the early hours on Saturday, May 23.

But the vulnerable man had fallen out and got stuck in the mud as the tide was coming in.

Clacton RNLI’s Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat was called to the scene at about 12.25am after Thames Coastguard received reports that the vulnerable man had taken to the river.

As the crew made its way to the scene, Mersea Coastguard reported it had spotted the 10ft boat, but that no-one was on board.

Essex Police, Mersea Coastguard and Essex County Fire and Rescue Service searched for the man, who was spotted in the mud on the opposite side of the river.

“With the tide on the flood and the water already up to the man’s legs, time was of the essence,” said Clacton RNLI crewman Joff Strutt.

“We arrived minutes later and were guided by torchlight to the man.

“Fortunately we managed to pluck him from the mud and into the boat.

“While en route to the pontoons at Rowhedge, the crew started to warm the casualty up as he was showing signs of being hypothermic.

“Once alongside the pontoon, he was walked up to the ambulance crew who took him to hospital for further treatment.

“This was a fantastic team effort by everyone involved, including the coastguard, police and fire service.

“Thanks to everyone's hard work, a life has been saved.”

The crew also retrieved the boat and returned it to the pontoons, following which the lifeboat returned to its station by 3.30am.

The Clacton RNLI crew included helmsman Tim Dye and crewmen Joff Strutt and Darren Simper.