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  • Christine Grosart

National Caving Conference & Thai Cave Rescue

Updated: Feb 16, 2020

Standing ovation for the Thai Cave rescue Team GB at the National Caving Conference, Hidden Earth 2018

While we were safely out of mobile phone signal with no internet in Fuzine, Croatia, a situation was unfolding in Thailand that was unparalleled in history. In June, a young male soccer team and their coach had ventured into a cave called Tham Luang in Thailand. It was a common thing to do. The boys left their push bikes by the entrance and headed off inside the cave for an adventure.

Then it rained. It rained a lot and the rain was early.

The water levels in the cave rose and the boys found themselves trapped by rapidly rising flood water and had to retreat even further into the cave to find higher ground.

There, they waited. The eyes of the world was on Tham Luang while the authorities tried to work out what to do.

I wasn’t surprised to hear that key members of the Cave Diving Group, some of whom had experience of underwater evacuations, had been called in.

The rest of the story is well known, so I won’t need to repeat it here.

It was great to see the guys back among their peers at Hidden Earth, the national caving conference and they had a very long, standing ovation from the main theatre which was overflowing.

With some help from some friends, we ran a try dive session in the pool and also won the ‘Best stand’ award of the conference for the Cave Diving Group.

Rick Stanton is interrogated by Big Stu

Cave Diving Group wins 'Best Club Stand' at Hidden Earth

Several months later I was quite surprised to receive an invitation to Westminster for one of many events celebrating the successful rescue of the 12 boys and their coach.

Confused, as despite being the CDG foreign officer, I’d been out of phone contact at the time and can safely say I’d had absolutely nothing to do with the whole affair – I replied thank you but I think the email has been sent to me in error.

I received a reply that the invitation was intended for the ‘great and good’ of the Cave Diving Group and was our opportunity to honour the guys that had rescued the children. An event for their peers, if you like.

It sounded like it would be a nice event and not something that happens every day.

I jumped on a train to London and we had all been put up in a swanky hotel before taking over the whole of Prezzos for a cracking evening and a great opportunity to catch up with friends, some of us who hadn’t seen each other for years.

The poor couple in the corner trying to have a romantic dinner for two must have wondered what was going on and how they ended up in the middle of this riff raff. I often wonder if they ever worked out who the guys were that stood together to have their photos taken.

The next day we had an invitation to drink the speakers chamber dry and eat all their food. Mr Speaker, Rt. Hon. John Bercow gave a good speech and we were given a tour of the houses of parliament before making our ways home.

Emma Heron, Rick Stanton, Christine Grosart, Clive Westlake, Jim Lister

Several months later, I was contacted by a member of Coventry BSAC who asked for Rick Stanton’s details as they wanted to make him an honorary member.

Rick had been unofficially “borrowing” their pool for years and now it looked like he was set up for life!

Rick graciously accepted and went to the dive club’s AGM dinner.

At one point in the evening, the compere asked what was the most unusual thing anyone had ever found underwater.

Rick put his hand up immediately and said “12 boys and a football coach!”


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