Leeds & West Yorkshire

Thai cave rescuer Jason Mallinson awarded honorary doctorate

Boy being moved by rescuers inside the cave Image copyright AFP/Royal Thai Navy
Image caption Rescuers had to winch the boys up a steep slope using a pulley system

A diver who helped rescue a group of boys from a flooded cave in Thailand has been honoured by the University of Huddersfield.

Jason Mallinson brought four of the 12 boys to safety including the last youngster to be stretchered out of the Tham Luang caves.

The football team's plight and the daring three-day operation to rescue them gripped the world's attention.

Mr Mallinson said no-one expected they would get all the boys out alive.

Image caption Jason Mallinson recalled the feeling of euphoria when all the boys were brought out alive

The diver, who comes from Huddersfield, said: "I never doubted what we were capable of and what our experiences would let us do but what we were never sure of was whether the boys would come out alive."

He recalled his emotions at bringing out the last of the boys.

"As I was diving towards where I was going to hand him over... it was a feeling of euphoria really. A very tight feeling in my chest," he said.

"I don't cry very often but I was on the point of doing that."

As a member of the British Cave Rescue Council, Mr Mallinson, who began diving in the Yorkshire Dales, was part of a team of specialist divers assembled to attempt a rescue of the Wild Boars football team and their coach who were trapped 4km (2.5 miles) inside the caves for more than two weeks last June.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption He was part of a team of divers along with British diver John Volanthen

Heavily sedated, each boy was given a full face mask, then strapped to a stretcher, while the divers took then round the twisting bends of the cave.

Dr Kiara Lewis, the university's head of sport and exercise science, said: "Jason has pushed the boundaries of what was thought possible in the elite world of cave diving exploration."

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