A marine from the district has been awarded a medal for gallantry by the RSPCA for the part he played in the daring cliff rescue of a pony.

Chris Mahomet, from Keighley, swung into action alongside four other Royal Marines and members of the Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service when the wild Dartmoor pony was spotted on a precarious cliff ledge.

Now Mr Mahomet, a member of the 539 Assault Squadron, has been given the Bronze Gallantry award, for considerable displays of courage, skill and tenacity in the rescue of an animal.

The pony had tumbled 80 feet down a cliff at Rame Head near Torpoint, Cornwall, in February last year.

Rope rescue teams and two Royal Marine were called in to save the pony, which was 30 feet above a rocky cove only accessible by boat.

An RSPCA inspector Alan Barnes, together with two members of the fire service’s road rescue crew, made their way down the cliff to the pony, which was 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, had scrambled a landing craft and fast craft which collected a vet and nurse from a nearby cove and dropped them on the beach to sedate the pony and then get it to an adjoining cove and safety. The pony, nicknamed Marinea in honour of her rescuers, was none the worse for her adventure and was 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.”

Colonel Garth Manager, commanding officer of 1 Assault Group Royal Marines, said: “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.”