Free flight home for British Cave Diver

Robert Harper was handed a ''certificate of appreciation'' and a caricature painting of him and fellow British divers John Volanthen and Richard Stanton before leaving Thailand on Wednesday night CREDIT: VIRAL PRESS

Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat presented a certificate of honour to Briton Robert Charles Harper at Suvarnabhumi International Airport on Wednesday night as the cave expert who played a crucial role in finding the 13 footballers departed for home.

In an 11pm ceremony, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith also gave him a painting of Harper and his two British colleagues as a keepsake.

Thai Airways International acting president Usanee Sangsingkeo was present.

The national carrier and its subsidiary Thai Smile Airways had flown Harper from Chiang Rai to Bangkok free of charge and were taking him home to England as well.

His colleagues, John Volanthen and Richard Stanton, whose voices were heard in an extraordinary video showing the moment they found the boys after a nine day search, remain at the site to assist with the rescue.

A 1,000-strong team is still working around the clock to extract the boys during a rare dry spell in the middle of Thailand’s rainy season.

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