Ben Needham
Toys have been found at the excavation site as part of the search for Ben Needham (Reuters)

The mother of missing Ben Needham has visited the dig site on the island of Kos shortly after police found parts of a child's toy.

Kerry Needham returned to the Greek island where her 21-month-old son disappeared 21 years ago and spent 30 minutes at the excavation site.

She said: "It broke my heart to go up there. It was painful but I had to do it for the sake of the police.

"I wanted to thank them for everything they are doing. It was wonderful to see our officers from home in uniform with the English word 'police' written on their sleeves.

"I also wanted to pay tribute to all the Greek volunteers who had given their time too.

"Many could not speak English but they patted their heart with their hand as I thanked them. I was crying all the way through."

The 10-day dig began on 19 October. Since then, police have found parts of toy cars, which Ben was known to have played with.

Inspector Colin Hope, who is part of the specialist search team, said: "We have found small parts of what look like tiny cars. We have found some wheels, we have found a bonnet.

"But we have also found plastic bits of toys like little heads from dolls and that kind of thing ... a whole range of toys really, including the sort of items we are looking for."

The team has also found beer cans with a sell by date of 1992. Inspector Hope told the Scottish Daily Record that this indicated they are "down to the level we need to be at and beyond".

He also said the Needham family do not recognise the recovered toys, but that this is "to be expected after the time we are looking at".

Despite the search effort, Kerry Needham said she is still hoping Ben is alive. Speaking about her visit to the site, she said: "It crucified me to be there, but it was worth it because it was important to show how grateful I am to everyone for their help in trying to show the world Ben is still out there somewhere and not laying dead underneath a mound."

The excavation began after an investigation by the Daily Mirror into Ben's disappearance. The newspaper claims Ben may have been buried in a building site close to the family home in a horrible accident.