Calls have been made for the British divers involved in the heroic rescue of 12 schoolboys and their coach from a flooded cave in Thailand to be honoured for their bravery.
Rick Stanton and John Volanthen were the first divers to reach the group nine days after they went missing in the underground network in northern Thailand.
The pair, along with a number of other British elite divers, had flown to the region to assist at the request of Thai authorities.
The rescue operation that captured the world’s imagination involved 90 divers from around the world and hundreds of rescue workers.
Yesterday, the last of the Wild Boars football team were brought safely to the surface and taken to hospital.
Hero British diver praised for work in rescuing boys from Thailand cave The British rescuers were said to be ‘all alright’ and resting after the gruelling operation.
Writing on Twitter, former Conservative Party treasurer Lord Ashcroft suggested Mr Stanton and Mr Volanthen could be awarded the George Cross or George Medal for their bravery.
The George Cross is the highest civilian honour in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. Others called for the pair to be given knighthoods for their ‘heroic efforts’.
Businesswoman Tracey Follows tweeted: ‘Knighthoods for the British divers involved please. True bravery and superhero status.’
Former England captain Michael Vaughan wrote on Twitter: ‘Proud of the England Football team. But that’s just sport. ‘More proud of the 7 British divers that have helped save all those boys lives in Thailand.’
Yorkshire diver Jason Mallinson was among the team of divers who navigated the intense 11-hour journey to and from the remote cave.
In a statement, the 50-year-old’s parents Ray and Anne Mallinson said: ‘We are very proud of Jason.
He went out on Wednesday with half a tonne of equipment. ‘We know he is one of the four British lead divers that brought them out. ‘The whole family is very proud of him.’
The elite divers joined the vast search after the group disappeared in the Luang Nang Non Cave, Chiang Rai province, on June 23.
Mr Stanton, a fireman from Coventry, aged in his 50s, was made an MBE at the end of 2012.
He previously said his greatest achievement was helping rescue trapped British soldiers from a cave in Mexico in 2004.
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’s mother, Jill, told the Daily Telegraph: ‘We are absolutely so proud, but my sympathy is with the wife and family of the diver who lost his life.
‘I would like to thank everybody for all their team work to get the lads out, it is absolutely lovely.’
It has been reported that pumps used to take water out of the cave failed shortly after the final person was rescued.
The 12 boys lost weight during their two-week ordeal but had water while they were trapped and are in good health, a Thai health official has said.