Mother and children in Braunton helicopter rescue

The police helicopter was involved in the rescue of a mother and her two children who were lost in north Devon on Sunday night.

At about 7.20pm on Sunday (29 September), Devon and Cornwall Police received an emergency call from the mother who was described as "distraught" and "panicking". She was with her ten-year-old and three-year-old children and told police that she was lost on Braunton Burrows.

She had been walking since 6pm and her children were getting cold and upset.

Devon and Cornwall Police say that the woman had been trying to find her way back to her car and had become completely disorientated in the pitch dark.

Local police units spoke to the unnamed woman on her mobile, but could not ascertain her location at all because she was unable to see any lights or landmarks.

The police helicopter had just completed another task at Launceston and flew to the location which is on the coast near Barnstaple.

On approach, the crew from the helicopter called the woman and with the use of a thermal image camera and night vision goggles, quickly located the family who were in the middle of the vast area. The helicopter managed to land close to their location which was inaccessible to any road or tracks.

The family were guided onto the helicopter and flown back to their car into the care of local police officers waiting in the car park which was over a mile away across the dunes. The family were all unhurt and able to go home.

Braunton Burrows is a well-known nature reserve of over 1,000 acres, which attracts many visitors and comprises one of the largest areas of windswept sand dunes in England. The sand is trapped in place by large clumps of marram grass.