Gallantry medals have been awarded by the SPCA to five Royal Marines and three members of the Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service for their part in the dramatic rescue of a pony who had tumbled 80 feet down a cliff.
Rope rescue teams and two Royal Marine crafts swung into action when the wild Dartmoor pony was spotted on a precarious ledge over a cliff at Rame Head near Torpoint, Cornwall, in February 2013. The pony was 30 feet above a rocky cove accessible only by boat.
RSPCA Inspector Alan Barnes, together with two members of Cornwall Fire and Rescue’s road rescue crew carefully made their way down the cliff to the pony.
She was then slowly coaxed along a steep slope of loose rock down to the beach.
Five members of 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines, based at Turnchapel in Devon, scrambled crafts which collected a vet, a nurse, six firefighters and an inflatable rescue path and dropped them at the beach. The path was inflated and the pony, who was sedated, was carried and floated across the choppy sea onto the landing craft.
The pony was taken from the beach, by boat, to an adjoining cove. Miraculously the pony, nicknamed Marinea in honour of her rescuers, was none the worse for her adventure. She was later reunited with her herd.
In presenting the medals, Channel 5 newsreader and former GMTV presenter Emma Crosby said the effort was a brilliant example of teamwork. “The RSPCA’s rope rescue team and inspectors worked with the fire and rescue service, the lifeguard, local vets and the royal marines to get this pony to safety.
“Each of them played an absolutely vital role that day and thanks to their professionalism, ingenuity, courage and teamwork this pony survived a potentially deadly ordeal.”
Colonel Garth Manager, commanding officer of 1 Assault Group Royal Marines, was pleased the rescuers were being recognised by the RSPCA.
“It shows the versatility we pride ourselves on in the Royal Marines that these men can help out in the local community one day rescuing animals and the next day be supporting the Royal Navy and Defence around the Globe.”