Calls For Knighthoods For British Divers Who Found And Rescued Thai Boys

I think it's fair to say the whole world breathed one big sigh of relief on Tuesday when news broke that all 12 boys and their football coach had emerged safely from the cave they were trapped in for 18 days in Thailand.

It was relief tinged with sadness, however, remembering the cost of the boys' rescue - the life of former Thai Navy diver Saman Gunan, who died when he ran out of oxygen while placing air tanks along a pitch black, submerged part of the boys' treacherous route to safety.

It is with that in mind that there are now calls being made for the seven British divers who assisted in the rescue to receive the highest possible honours for their efforts.

On Twitter, Conservative politician Lord Ashcroft said they should receive the George Cross or the George Medal - the highest civilian honour for services not made in battle, which rewards "acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger."

Others went even further. Businesswoman Tracey Follows said: "Knighthoods for the British divers involved please. True bravery and superhero status."

Two of the British divers, volunteers Rick Stanton, who is a fireman from Coventry, and John Volanthen, an IT consultant based in Bristol, were the first people to find the boys.

They were only able to communicate with the group - who had been trapped underground for over nine days by that point - because one of the boys, 14-year-old Adul Sam-on, was multilingual and spoke to them in English, asking them what day it was and telling them how hungry they were.

The pair of volunteer divers were joined by one of the world's top cave divers, Jason Mallinson, who, along with four others, had been asked to join in the rescue attempt by the Thai authorities.

Mallinson's mum, Anne, from Huddersfield, said: "I have had sleepless nights, waking up early in the morning just to keep checking what is happening. It has been so emotional. I sit here with worry but I know he is doing what he must do and he loves it.

"I don't think Jason knew exactly what was involved until he got out there. The little Thai boys were so slim, everyone who saw it on TV will understand. The operation escalated so quickly and I have been wracked with worry following the updates.

"My stomach has been going and I have had so many sleepless nights, I am so glad it is over."

What a bunch of absolute heroes.

Mischa Pearlman

Mischa is a freelance journalist usually based in either New York or London. He has written for Kerrang!, Record Collector, NME, the New York Observer and FLOOD magazine, among others. Contact him at [email protected]

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