MINEHEAD RNLI was forced to call off a search for missing pensioner Trevor Telling after harsh weather conditions battered Somerset's coastline. 

The RNLI station's Atlantic 85 braved force eight gales to search for the 71 year-old pensioner after being requested by the coastguard at 5pm to search the shoreline towards Hurlestone Point. 

But the mission was called off as conditions worsened once the boat was off Greenaleigh Farm.

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Minehead RNLI spokesman, Chris Rundle said: “At that location the wind was starting to gust to force nine – that’s a wind speed of 45 knots – and the crew were encountering four-metre waves.

"In addition to that they were in driving rain and hail.

“In conditions like that it would have been too dangerous to take the boat in close enough to a lee shore to carry out any kind of meaningful search, particularly in the dark, so the decision was taken to call the operation off.”

Even then the crew’s problems weren’t over.

Conditions on the beach in front of the lifeboat house were too severe to allow the boat to be driven back onto its carriage so it was moored in Minehead harbour overnight before being recovered on Wednesday (January 17).