British diver who helped in Thai rescue: 'We're not heroes'

British diver who helped in Thai rescue: 'We're not heroes'

The divers speaking at the press conference at Heathrow Airport. Image: PA

Friday, July 13, 2018

One of the British divers who helped rescue the junior Thai football team trapped in a cave has described how they felt after bringing the boys out of the cave.

Speaking at a press conference at Heathrow Airport, Rick Stanton said: Initially of course, [we felt] excitement, relief that they were still alive.

“As they were coming down the slope we were counting them, we got to 13. Unbelievable. They looked in good health.”

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He spoke of how the British diving team, which also included John Volanthen, Chris Jewel, Jason Mallinson, Connor Roe, Josh Bratchley, Jim Warny, Mike Clayton and Gary Mitchell - all highly-trained cave divers - felt as they headed to the rescue mission.

“Of course when we departed all we could think about as how we were going to get them out, so there was relief tempered with uncertainty,” he said of the rescue at the Tham Luang cave in Thailand's Chiang Rai province.

“This is completely uncharted, unprecedented territory, so of course there were doubts.

“But I know we had a good team and good support from the Thai authorities and the national caving community and rescue organisations, so we had the best we could do to make a plan work.”

Mr Stanton, aged in his late 50s, has dismissed suggestions that he and the team are heroes and should be honoured.

"Are we heroes? No, we were just using a very unique skill set, which we normally use for our own interests and sometimes we are able to use that and give something back to the community," he said.

Who are the divers?

Mr Stanton is a retired firefighter from Coventry. He and Mr Volanthen were the first to reach the 12 boys, aged 11-16 and their football coach.

Mr Volanthen is an IT consultant from Bristol who dives as a hobby. He is a member of the British cave rescue council, and has been involved in previous rescues alongside Mr Stanton and Mr Mallinson, including a rescue mission in Mexico in 2004 which had certain similarities to the Thai situation.

Martyn Farr, a cave diving expert from Wales and friend of Mr Volanthen and Mr Stanton, told the Times that “they are unquestionably the leading rescuers in the UK”.