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  1. ITV Report

From a fireman to an IT consultant - the British diving hobbyists who found lost Thai cave boys

When video emerged of 12 boys and their football coach alive after more than a week of being missing in a Thai cave complex the world sighed with relief.

But after the news sank in of their astonishing survival, many were left wondering why voices in the video were from the UK - 6,000 miles from the rescue site.

Thai Navy SEALs had been searching the flooded cave complex with no success before a team of cave divers from around the world were asked to help with the search effort and the first to find the boys were British.

The humble divers from the British Cave Rescue Council, who refuse to be branded heroes, have established reputations as being among the best cave rescuers in the world, but who are they?

  • Rick Stanton the fireman
Rick Stanton is a fireman from Coventry.

Mr Stanton, a fireman from Coventry, previously said his greatest achievement was helping rescue trapped British soldiers from a cave in Mexico in 2004.

Regarded as one of the world’s leading cave rescue experts, he told publication Divernet that diving is a “hobby” he does voluntarily.

Mr Stanton, aged in his 50s, was made an MBE at the end of 2012, and told the Coventry Telegraph at the time: “My biggest achievement was helping rescue the six soldiers.

He has said his toughest challenge was attempting to rescue accomplished French diver Eric Establie in 2010, whose remains were discovered in southern France.

  • John Volanthen the IT consultant
John Volanthen is an IT consultant based in Bristol. Credit: AP

Mr Volanthen was also Mr Stanton’s partner on the French rescue attempt, after the elite pair were flown out to help find Mr Establie.

Both men were awarded a bronze medal from the Royal Humane Society in recognition of their rescue attempt in the Ardeche Gorge, southern France.

Mr Volanthen, an IT consultant in his 40s and based in Bristol, was also part of a British team with Mr Stanton which reportedly set a world record for a deep underwater cave dive in Spain in 2010.

Mr Volanthen, originally from Brighton, attended Westminster University and has worked in Bristol for the past 20 years, according to his LinkedIn page.

  • Peter Dennis the training officer
Peter Dennis is the chairman of the British Cave Rescue Council.

Peter Dennis is the chairman of the British Cave Rescue Council and advises Government and the emergency services on rescues. He's been a training officer since 2017.

He said the Thai operation was “one of the most extraordinary cave rescues we have seen.”

  • Gary Mitchell the development worker
Gary Mitchell is the assistant vice chairman of the British Cave Rescue Council.

Gary Mitchell is the assistant vice chairman of the British Cave Rescue Council and chairman of the South and Mid Wales team. According to his Facebook he's also a development worker at Social Farms & Gardens Wales

He said: "There are various dive rescue groups across the globe but I would go as far to say that we are one of the top.

"A lot of that is down to the fact that the UK is a hot bed for cave exploration, so we have a lot of experience."

He added: "The Thai people don't really do caving. It's such a specialist field. There are about 20,000 divers active in the UK and that's it. It's not a massive sport."

  • Chris Jewell the dive organiser
Chris Jewell Cheddar

Mr Jewell is a diving officer who advises on cave diving issues and liases between the Cave Diving Group and BCRC.

He organised the 2013 expedition to the Huautla cave system in Mexico which established the cave as the deepest in the Western Hemisphere at a point once called the “most remote yet reached inside the earth”.

Of the Thai cave rescue Mr Jewell said: "Our role was to help transport the boys under water through the cave to bring them out.

"The diving conditions were extremely challenging, there was poor visibility and responsibility for another human being's life."

  • Connor Roe the dedicated diver
Connor Roe started cave diving in 2012.

Mr Roe started cave diving in 2012 and in 2013 he joined the expedition organised by Chris Jewell to the Huautla cave system in Mexico.

In 2014 he was the main organiser for an expedition to the famous Gouffre Berger cave in France.

  • Josh Bratchley the operational meteorologist
Josh Brachley is an operational meteorologist from north Wales.

On his Twitter page Josh describes himself as an "enjoyer of hiking, mountaineering, SCUBA, caving, cave diving, climbing, skydiving, paragliding, and snowsports".

In his day job he's a operational meteorologist but his spare time is taken up taking pictures, concentrating on cave, exploration and travel photography.

  • Mike Clayton the height safety specialist
Mike Clayton works for a height safety specialist company testing the latest equipment.

Mr Clayton is the Chair of Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation, team member of Gloucestershire Cave Rescue Group and in his day job he works for a height safety specialist company testing the latest equipment.