A local man has been recognised for his role in a cave rescue that captured the world’s imagination. Mike Clayton of Hampton Loade near Bridgnorth was one of the team who helped bring out 12 members of a Thai football team and their coach after they became trapped in a complex of caves in northern Thailand. Along with his partner Emma Porter, who helped coordinate the rescue from the UK, Mike was invited to meet PM Theresa May at a special reception in July.
“I’m the national equipment officer for the British Cave Rescue Council (BCRC) and Emma is the secretary,” explains Mike, who worked at the surface of the complex during the operation. “Emma was the ‘control’ here in the UK, so we were both involved from the start liaising with the divers out in Thailand and the media storm!”
The exceptionally difficult rescue, in which an experienced Thai diver lost his life, was followed around the world, and Mike confirms it was as challenging as it sounded. He explains, “This rescue was unique because of the length and complexity of the dive for non-divers and the time spent underground before rescue. The threat of monsoon rain starting any time added a time pressure.
“During the rescue, there were times of great apprehension. It was a relief when the first boy came out of the cave alive. When all 13 were out, together with all other personnel, there was a massive sense of relief, joy and amazement.”