THEY are the unsung army of people who give up their time to help for free.

Volunteers from HANTSAR, the Hampshire search and rescue team, began to descend on the New Forest after a plea for help from police yesterday.

Some of them were at work when the alert came through, but were released by employers, while there were others including a self employed builder who simply downed tools to assist.

As darkness began to fall the volunteers, who are not paid and even fund their own training, continued to arrive, keen to offer any help they could.

One man had even driven 70 miles from Gloucestershire, where he is a member of his local search and rescue team, after receiving a message looking to bolster numbers on the ground.

He said: “You have to do what you can, there is a young man missing and the more people there are out looking for him the better the chances he will be found.”