As an eight-year-old boy the waters of Falmouth almost claimed his life. Now, 43 years on, the man in question is hoping to find answers that will finally give him closure.

For Martin Nash his near-death experience, during the last week of July in 1976, led to a lifetime of guilt and buried emotions, which he is still struggling to recover from.

He hopes that by speaking to anyone locally who might remember what happened, he will finally be able to lay the past to rest.

Martin had been visiting his brother Mike in Falmouth, who was studying boat-building, and stayed at a bed and breakfast in Marlborough Road.

After much pestering his brother agreed to take him to the beach to learn to swim, along with the family from the guest house, but at the last minute he left to meet friends instead.

Angry that he was missing the chance to be with his brother, and determined not to let his fun be spoilt, eight-year-old Martin ignored the warnings to wait for the others and went off on his own.

Remembering what unfolded, he said: "I went up only to my waist; I listened enough not to go out further than that, but that was enough.

"I don't know how many seconds it took, but before I knew it a wave came in, simultaneously taking the sand from underneath me and I felt a strong pull, like an invisible hand that took me out, way beyond the diving platform the teens were playing on and way out of my comfort zone."

Despite not knowing how to swim, instinct and self-preservation took over and he "swam back towards the beach like someone who had swam all his life" - up to the moment his brain realised he shouldn't know how to, and he went under the water.

"The next few minutes were the most defining and terrifying of my life. I remember screaming underwater, feeling and tasting the horrible salt water, lashing out, looking for some sort of solid ground to hold onto and finding nothing but liquid, coming to the surface, going under, flailing, fighting and finally, nothing.

"The last few moments of my life were faced; I looked up through the water to a world beyond me, my hand twitched its last echoes of fight and I drifted away. I couldn’t feel the water around me any longer, it was just as if I was going to sleep.

"Next thing I knew, I was in a woman’s arms being carried to the beach."

In shock and blaming himself for what happened, he lied and said he was fine to people's queries - and so the world continued as normal, except for him.

"I was returned to a world that went on like nothing had happened so I drifted apart from it, like I really had died that day and everyone else didn’t notice.

"I withdrew, hid inside myself, I became a recluse in my own mind; outside I was little more than a mute, I lost friends, hid at the back of classes, avoided sports and anything that made me stand out from anyone else because I didn’t want to be noticed, I didn’t want to be stared at, pointed out to different.

"We had swimming lessons after I returned from holidays, they were amongst the worst days of my school life," said Martin.

In a time of 'keep a stiff upper lip', post-traumatic stress was not something considered or understood.

It was not a year ago that Martin, now aged 52 and living in Gloucester, was able to access counselling through his work and he finally began the process of recovery, realising that what took place was not his fault.

This month he returned to Falmouth in the hope of finally feeling some sense of closure - but would like to speak to anyone who was there on the day, or remembered what happened, to finally put the ghosts to rest.

Martin can be contacted through his Facebook profile, or by passing contact details on via the Packet. Email or call 01326 213341.