THE mum of an 11-year-old disabled boy who went missing yesterday has given a special message of thanks to his rescuers.

George Pugh-Sargent, 11, from Frampton, went missing in Ringstead Bay yesterday afternoon during a walk with his family. He was found down an eight-foot ditch after a home-owner saw pleas for information published by the Dorset Echo.

A huge search operation was launched by Dorset Police and coastguards, and involved more than 100 people and included the police helicopter, RNLI and members of the Dorset Search and Rescue Team (DORSAR).

George’s mum, Barbara Pugh said a huge thank you to all the rescue teams involved in searching for her son and the community for their support and help looking for George.

Mrs Pugh added a special thank you to the kind lady who found George and gave him flapjacks and everyone at the Ringstead Bay Cafe who stayed open and served tea to rescue volunteers.

She said they had been very worried about him. She said: “I just wanted to say how very grateful all of George's family are for all the help we received yesterday from both public and professionals alike.

“I know a lot of people were looking out for him, a lot of people came down to let us know that they were thinking of him and offering to look.

“It was all appreciated far more than I can ever say and we feel very lucky to have him back safe and sound.”

She added: "I would also like to thank the Echo for their coverage."

Yesterday officers said they were growing 'increasingly concerned' as George was only wearing shorts and a t-shirt when he went missing and the weather was worsening.

However, by a 'stroke of luck' a home-owner saw George's story on the Dorset Echo website and decided to check their garden.

He was found stuck in an eight-foot drainage ditch in the back garden of a Ringstead cottage and was hoisted out by coastguards.

Following the rescue, a member of the DORSAR rescue team said the owners decided to search their garden after seeing the appeals published by the Echo.

Thankfully, George only suffered cuts and bruises as a result of his ordeal.

Insp Colin Bell of Dorset Police, who ran the search mission, said: “The owners searched their back garden and phoned police.

“The hole was in deep undergrowth and difficult terrain and it was also in an area of land the coastguards had searched earlier in the day, but he wasn't in the hole at that point.

“He was cold, very muddy and hungry but apart from that he was in relatively high spirits.

“His mother was overjoyed when we found him.

“It was quite a difficult search because of the conditions and fading light and the more time went on, the more and more concerned we were getting for George's welfare.

“We worked closely with his mother because he is vulnerable.

“Finding him safe and well is a really great result and is a great example of the joined up working between the police, coastguards, and search and rescue teams.

“It was really lucky the people in the cottage found him when they did because of the fading light, it was a real stroke of luck.

“These sorts of incidents are always intensive for us because of the worries and the amount of resources we put in, but this result justifies that.”

Rob Sansom, senior coastal operations officer for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said: “George was checked over by paramedics as a precaution, but he was in relatively high spirits.

“It was a very large drainage ditch, and because it was slippery, he was unable to get himself out of the hole.

“He was covered in mud and it is unclear whether he fell or put himself in the hole.

“We had searched the area earlier in the day but we don't think he was in it then and it was good timing when he was found because of the failing light it would have made life difficult for us.

“These incidents happen, but the safety message I would say is people should always be aware that weather conditions change quite quickly and plan ahead.”