Royal marines and firefighters who rescued a pony from a Cornish cliffside have been awarded gallantry medals by the RSPCA.

The medals were presented in London on Saturday (1 March).

A Dartmoor pony fell 80ft down a cliff at Rame Head, near Torpoint, Cornwall in February 2013.

RSPCA inspector Alan Barnes, with 2 members from Cornwall Fire and Rescue’s service, coaxed the pony down off the ledge to the rocky cove below, which was only accessible by boat.

Copy of Marines

The pony was sedated by a vet who had been dropped off on the beach in a fast craft by five members of 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines, based at Turnchapel in Devon.

The marines then picked up 6 firefighters and an inflatable rescue path and dropped them at the beach. The path was inflated and the pony was carried and floated across the choppy sea in a makeshift stretcher onto the landing craft.

The pony, nicknamed Marinea, in honour of her rescuers, was taken to nearby stables, and later reunited with her herd.

The RSPCA’s chief veterinary officer, Dr James Yeates, said: “This was a complicated rescue which took several hours and involved many organisations with a variety of skills.

“Plans had to be adapted to cope with changing weather and sea conditions as the rescue unfolded but thanks to the professionalism of everyone involved, and despite all the risks, it ended in the best possible way — the safe return of this little wild pony.

Marinea's rescue 032

The bronze gallantry award, for considerable displays of courage, skill and tenacity in the rescue of an animal, was presented to Corporal Chris Westbury and marines Henry Mitchell, David Willers, Steven McNicholas and Chris Mahomet of the 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines, and Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service’s specialist line rescue team from Bodmin led by crew manager Phil Hoare, Guy Herrington manager of Truro Fire Station and Martin Wingrove, group manager of Cornwall Fire and Rescue service.