Bosses at Wookey Hole Caves in Somerset have paid tribute to the courage and skill of the cave divers who reached and helped rescue 12 boys and their coach from a Thai cave – and have launched a search to find the next generation of potential lifesavers.
Cave divers Richard Stanton and John Volanthen – who led the rescue efforts which finally got through to the trapped youth football team – developed their techniques and specialist equipment during exploratory dives at Wookey Hole Caves back in 2004.
Managing Director Daniel Medley said:
“This was a Real-Life Mission Impossible in which Richard and John played a key role. The rescue mission has demonstrated the wealth of extraordinary talent developed in the subterranean world, here in the Mendip Hills.
“We believe there are children at local schools who possess the skillset and necessary attitude to one day join these modern heroes across the world during international rescue, exploration and discovery.”
‘Wild Wookey’ is looking for young individuals to join on to a Wild Wookey Adventure Caving Experience for children wishing to pursue caving as an out-of-school activity and improve their climbing abilities, knowledge of geology and understanding of underground safety.
“We are offering generous discounts to students wishing to pursue Wild Wookey as a regular activity as well as, for those able to use Wild Wookey as their Physical Activity as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award.”
Wild Wookey offers students the opportunity to experience Wookey Hole’s extensive cave system, under the watchful eye of World-class, expert instructors.
Richard Stanton and John Volanthen’s record-breaking dives formed part of a wider training programme which has been developed and constantly updated since the first diving serious diving attempts were made back in 1935.
John and Rick reached a record depth of 76m at Wookey Hole Caves in September 2004.
Daniel Medley went on: “The equipment they used was key to the rescue bid in Thailand and had been developed during the long and extremely dangerous explorations which led to the record dive in 2004. The RS2000 rebreather was modified and streamlined to enable divers to fit through very confined spaces in the Wookey Hole Caves system and reach depths approaching 200m.
“The British team are acknowledged global experts in underwater cave systems and it makes us incredibly proud to think we helped them develop their extraordinary skills here at Wookey Hole Caves.
“Wookey Hole Caves is the home of cave diving and training. More people have been on the moon than some of the hidden chambers here and we are constantly striving to beat diving records and develop the equipment needed to achieve these results.”