A Falmouth pilot who volunteered to go aboard a bulk carrier which had run aground off Gyllyngvase Beach last year has been awarded a prestigious medal.

Tristan Gurd, was winched aboard by helicopter, despite hazardous winds and heavy seas on December 17.

This is The West Country:

A helicopter in attendance at first light on December 17 last year

Captain Mark Sansom, harbour master and chief executive of Falmouth Harbour Commissioners, said: “Boarding the vessel by helicopter in such adverse conditions went well beyond the normal duties expected of a marine pilot. By his courage, resourcefulness and determination, Tristan made a crucial contribution to the successful re-floating efforts.

“There were many meritorious services from the vessels and personnel assisting that day but without Tristan’s exceptional voluntary contribution, the outcome of the incident may well have been different,” said Mr Sansom.

Once aboard the stricken Russian vessel, he coordinated the connecting of tugs and was instrumental in planning and executing a manoeuvre which successfully re-floated the 16,000-tonne bulk carrier and towed it clear from the beach.

Read more: Kuzma Minin stranded off Falmouth beach 

He has been awarded the Thomas Gray Memorial Trust Silver Medal in recognition of his exceptional accomplishments in the rescue operation.

The honour was presented by the Marine Society, a charity which supports the professional development of seafarers, at their annual court at Trinity Hall in London (on Wednesday, October 9.

Mr Sansom added: “Tristan is a very worthy recipient of the Thomas Gray medal and on behalf of Falmouth Harbour Commissioners, I wish him my sincerest congratulations.”

Tristan was nominated for the medal by the commissioners following his actions as duty pilot in the major incident which took place during a severe gale on December 17 last year.

Three days after the incident, the Packet's David Barnicoat spoke to Tristan, who said: “It was a bit of a surreal experience, especially the helicopter boarding. Everyone put in such a massive effort, and it was great to have a successful outcome.”

The rescue mission was launched after bulk carrier Kuzma Minin, carrying 18 crew, became stranded just before 6am, after dragging its anchor in a southerly gale.

After more than eight hours, tugs finally freed the 16,000 tonne ship and it headed back to sea just after 2pm, to the relief and joy of everyone involved, including hundreds of spectactors on the shore.

This is The West Country:

A view of the Kuzma Minin from a rescue boat

The dramatic high-tide operation involved the assistance of a number of parties, including tugs from Falmouth Docks and Fowey Harbour Commissioners as well as a workboat supplied by Keynvor Morlift Ltd.

It attracted attention from across the world and has firmly cemented a place in Falmouth’s maritime history.