Diver Who Helped Rescue Thai Football Team From Cave Receives George Medal
A diver who helped to rescue a junior football team from a flooded cave in Thailand has received a George Medal from the Queen.
John Volanthen, from Bristol, UK, was the first to reach the team alongside fellow Briton, Richard Stanton. All 12 boys and their coach were subsequently rescued from the cave in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex in Chiang Rai, which became flooded following monsoon rains.
In recognition of his bravery during the rescue mission, Mr Volanthen was presented with the second highest civilian gallantry award on Tuesday. However, the 47-year-old was keen to emphasise that he was only one part of the rescue effort.
According to the Evening Standard, he said: "We were part of a much wider team, so while some of us have been individually recognised, it is the whole team who needs to take the credit.
"We were part of a much greater team, which was international. The credit needs to be spread around a little bit more I think."
He went on to add that the operation was in fact 'the opposite of brave'.
He said: "What we do is very calm and calculated and it is quite the opposite of brave - it really is. We take one step forwards and it is about being sensible and careful - really that is how we were successful."
The boys who were trapped in the cave all played for Wild Boars youth football team and were aged between 11 and 16. They had cycled to the caves with their coach for a day of exploration but ended up getting stuck for more than two weeks, as the world watched on in horror.
As well as being the first to reach the boys, Mr Volanthen personally retrieved three of them from the cave. Reflecting on the team's heroic efforts, he admitted that he did not expect to find them all alive after such a long time.
According to the BBC, he said: "We knew we'd find the children, but we didn't expect to find them alive. We saw the amount of rainfall and the type of flooding and it seemed unlikely anyone would survive.
"The biggest reward I could have was knowing all the children survived."
In September, Mr Volanthen was awarded the Bronze Cross, the highest honour in the scouts, for his role in the rescue.
He also previously received a Royal Humane Society medal at Buckingham Palace in honour of his attempts to rescue a trapped diver in France in 2010.
What a guy.
Featured Image Credit: PA