Rick Stanton
Stanton in 2008
Richard William Stanton

1961 (age 62–63)
EducationAston University
Known forCave diving, cave rescue

Richard William Stanton, MBE, GM (born 1961)[1] is a British civilian cave diver who specialises in rescues through the Cave Rescue Organisation and the British Cave Rescue Council. He has been called "one of the world's most accomplished cave-divers", "the face of British cave diving," and "the best cave diver in Europe". Stanton has lived in Coventry for many years, and was formerly a firefighter with the West Midlands Fire Service for 25 years prior to his retirement. In 2018 he played a leading role in the Tham Luang cave rescue and was awarded the George Medal in the Civilian Gallantry List.

Early life

Stanton was born in 1961[2] and grew up in Epping Forest District in Essex.[3] He attributes his interest in cave diving to a television programme he watched as a teenager, The Underground Eiger, saying, "After watching it, I just knew that cave-diving was for me."[4] Stanton studied at Aston University, where he joined both the caving and the diving clubs.[3] He began as a self-taught diver in the River Lune in Cumbria and Lancashire.[4]

Stanton has lived in Coventry for many years, and was formerly a firefighter with the West Midlands Fire Service for 25 years prior to his retirement.[5]

Caving and rescues


Stanton usually cave dives and conducts rescues with a partner, John Volanthen. In 2004 he was involved in the rescue of six British cavers who were trapped in a cave at the Alpazat caverns in Mexico for eight days.[6] Stanton was also part of a team that attempted a cave rescue of Eric Establie, in the Dragonnière Gaud Cave near Labastide-de-Virac in the Ardèche region of France, in 2010 which was ultimately unsuccessful.[7][8]

In 2011, Stanton assisted in the recovery of the body of Polish cave diver Artur Kozłowski from Pollonora cave at Kiltartan, Ireland.[9]

Norwegian authorities asked him to assist to recover the bodies of two Finnish divers from Jordbrugrotta in 2014, but after diving down to the site he and his colleagues deemed the operation too risky. He had completed another recovery there in 2006.[10]

In 2018, he helped locate a youth football team in the Tham Luang cave rescue.[5][11][12] After locating and participating in the rescue of the missing team and its coach, Stanton said that he and the other cave divers involved were not heroes, saying, "We’re just using a very unique skill set, which we normally use for our own interest and sometimes we’re able to use that to give something back to the community."[13]

Stanton later said: "I think I hold great pride in what we did. You could say it’s justification for the dedication I put forward into a ridiculous minority sport that no one ever took seriously."[14]


In 2004 Stanton and Volanthen set a world record for greatest depth achieved in a British cave, cave diving 76 m (249 ft) at Wookey Hole in Somerset.[15] In 2010 Stanton, Volanthen, Jason Mallinson, and René Houben set a world record for longest cave penetration dive, obtaining 8,800 m (28,900 ft) in the Pozo Azul cave system in the Rudrón Valley in Spain.[16]


Stanton is a technical diver, developing his own diving gear to great effect. He developed two closed-circuit rebreather units; this novel technology has been "instrumental in his achieving cave diving depth records around the world."[17] One modification was to allow the rebreather to be worn on the side of the body rather than the chest or back. This is advantageous in fitting through smaller spaces. He builds prototypes of his designs and tests them in swimming pools before using them in caves.[3]

He also uses underwater scooters to dive more efficiently, travelling greater distances while conserving energy and oxygen supplies.[18]


Awards and honours

Stanton has been called "one of the world's most accomplished cave-divers",[4] "the face of British cave diving,"[21] and "the best cave diver in Europe".[21]

In 2008 Stanton received the EUROTEK "Diver of the Conference Award" for his "significant contribution to advanced and technical diving." [22] Stanton's rescue attempt of a diver in a French cave, and assistance in identifying the location of that diver's body, earned him the Royal Humane Society's bronze medal in 2012.[23] In 2021 Stanton also received the 'Hero of the Year' award at the West Midland Fire Service's Aspire Awards.[24]

Stanton was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours, "For services to Local Government".[5][25]

In November 2018, Stanton and five other members of the British cave rescue team were given the 2018 Pride of Britain Award for "Outstanding Bravery" for the Tham Luang incident. The rescued children attended the award ceremony, in London.[26] On 28 December 2018 it was announced that Stanton and Volanthen would receive the George Medal in the 2019 New Year Honours for their roles at Tham Luang.[27][28] Three other members of their team were appointed MBEs and two were awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal.[28]

On 21 November 2021 explorer Mark Wood, Chairman of the Great Britain and Ireland Explorers Club Chapter, awarded Stanton a chapter coin in recognition of the role he played in the 2018 Thai cave rescue.[29]

Personal life

Stanton lives in Coventry.[30][31]

See also


  1. ^ Nick Allen; Francesca Marshall; Victoria Ward (4 July 2018). "Thailand cave rescue: Meet the 'A-Team' of heroic volunteer British divers who led search". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Limited. Archived from the original on 3 July 2018. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Stanton, Rick, MBE". Diving Almanac Book of Records. 5 February 2019. Archived from the original on 17 March 2019. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Hanwell, J.; Price, D.; Witcombe, R. (2010). Wookey Hole: 75 Years of Cave Diving & Exploration (PDF). Cave Diving Group. ISBN 978-0901031075.
  4. ^ a b c "Rick Stanton". Divernet. October 2007. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "Thailand cave rescue: The Brits who helped find the boys". BBC News. BBC. 3 July 2018. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  6. ^ "Military cavers rescued by Royal Navy in 'gentle' trip that became PR disaster". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Limited. 26 March 2004. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  7. ^ "South and Mid Wales experts join Ardeche cave rescue". BBC News. BBC. 11 October 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  8. ^ "Cave explorer found dead after dramatic eight-day search". France 24. 12 October 2010. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  9. ^ Siggins, Lorna (12 September 2011). "British rescue team recovers body of missing cave diver". The Irish Times. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  10. ^ Kremer, William (9 May 2016). "The cave divers who went back for their friends". BBC News. Retrieved 3 July 2018. World-renowned for his rescue and recovery work in caves, Stanton had a feeling he would be asked to travel to Plurdalen to retrieve the bodies - he had done a recovery there in 2006 - and had already started to find out what he could.
  11. ^ Low, Valentine (4 July 2018). "British divers Richard Stanton and John Volanthen at the heart of the Thai cave rescue". Retrieved 22 July 2018 – via www.thetimes.co.uk.
  12. ^ "Meet the British 'A-team' divers at the center of Thailand cave rescue". Washington Post. 3 July 2018. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  13. ^ "British divers insist they are not heroes after Thai cave rescue". The Irish Times. 13 July 2018. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  14. ^ Rosemary E Lunn "The Rescue - A Definitive Documentary on Saving the Thai Cave 13" Archived 27 December 2021 at the Wayback Machine DIVE magazine
  15. ^ "Thailand cave rescue: 'Best of the best' enlisted to find boys and coach". The New Zealand Herald. NZME. 3 July 2018. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  16. ^ "Records and Aquatic Superlatives". Diving Almanac. Diving Almanac & Book of Records. 3 July 2018. Archived from the original on 11 January 2020. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  17. ^ "TEKCAMP LUMINARIES". TEKCAMP. Vobster Diving Ltd. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  18. ^ Rider, Helen (October 2006). "FRENCH LEAVE". Divernet. Genius CMS Ltd. Archived from the original on 5 July 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  19. ^ Stanton, Rick. "Tham Luang cave rescue: The extraordinary story of how the boys were saved".
  20. ^ Aquanaut. 25 August 2022.
  21. ^ a b Roy, Eleanor Ainge (2 July 2018). "British divers at heart of Thai cave rescue among best in world". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  22. ^ Gallant, Jeffrey (20 November 2017). "Awards Hall of Fame". Diving Almanac. Diving Almanac & Book of Records. Archived from the original on 23 January 2021. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  23. ^ Royal Humane Society (2012). Annual Report 2012 (PDF) (Report). Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 April 2019. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  24. ^ "Coventry fireman is made MBE in New Year Honours". Coventry Telegraph. 29 December 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  25. ^ "No. 60367". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 28 December 2012. p. 22.
  26. ^ "Displaying items by tag: 2018 - Pride of Britain Awards". Pride of Britain. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  27. ^ Rosemary E Lunn 7 Medals and a Cave Dive - New Year's Honour Awards for the Thai Rescuers X-Ray Magazine
  28. ^ a b "Honours for Thai cave rescue divers". BBC News. 28 December 2018.
  29. ^ Rosemary E Lunn Rick Stanton presented with Explorers Club 'Chapter Coin' X-Ray Magazine
  30. ^ "Coventry diver Rick Stanton honoured over Thai cave rescue". BBC News. 4 September 2018.
  31. ^ "Heroism of Thai cave rescuer Rick Stanton to be recognised". 3 August 2018.