Pensioner Tony Bolland says his pet Jack Russell Badger helped save his life after he fell into a gully on Roundway Hill.

The 69-year-old diabetic was trapped for three hours in the cold and wet on Sunday night after he tumbled down a sharp incline while looking for Badger, who had run off.

It was only when a group of metal detectorists from Devon found Badger that they raised the alarm.

Mr Bolland, of Southbroom Road, was left with a sprained hip, bruising and swollen feet after the fall and was unable to get up again. He had no mobile phone and feared for his safety.

“I screamed my head off for about an hour-and-a-half but nothing happened. I had prepared myself that I would be there for the night. “It was gradually getting colder and I was worried that it would freeze or rain.

“By the time the police found me I was beginning to fall asleep.

“The paramedic who treated me said if I had fallen asleep it would have been a serious situation. If there had been a cold wind he said it would have been life-threatening.”

Luckily amateur metal detectorists Graham Chet-wynd, 42, of Buckfastleigh, Jason Leach, 41 and Sam Lebailley, 15, of Paignton, stopped off at Roundway Hill after attending a rally at Foxham, near Chippenham.

They found the 15-year-old dog and looked for his owner. When they couldn’t trace him they tried calling Mr Bolland’s home number, which was on Badger’s collar.

When they got no answer they drove to Melksham Police Station to raise the alarm. Officers from the Devizes Neighbourhood Policing Team, and response officers from Trowbridge and Devizes, went to Roundway Hill. The police helicopter was also scrambled.

Police eventually found Mr Bolland at 9.30pm, three hours after he had fallen.

The stained glass maker and retired architect said: “I saw the helicopter go overhead and fly away a few times.

“A while later I could see torches and above me on the track were police. They were shouting, I was shouting and they found me.”

Mr Bolland was checked over by a paramedic and aken home that night. Mr Chetwynd, a self-employed mechanic, played down his actions.

“He said: “We are glad it turned out alright and the gentleman was okay.

“Most people would have done what we did. Luckily we left the rally early and decided to go on Roundway Hill.”

Inspector Dave Eddy of Wiltshire Police said: “This man was safely recovered with only minor injuries.

“But, if it were not for the initial attentiveness of the emergency operators and the hard work of many operational officers, this man would have at least suffered a cold, dark and potentially wet night trapped at the bottom of a steep hill in an unpopulated area.

“It could have easily ended with much more tragic circumstances.”

He said he would be nominating a number of officers for recognition including Sgt James Brain, PC Andy List, PC Pete Lawson and PCSO Nina Marsh.

Mr Bolland said: “I was lucky that Graham and his friends found Badger and a huge thanks to them for putting themselves out. They are very special people.

“The police team were brilliant and I wish to thank them, the helicopter pilot and the paramedic.”