Social Farms & Gardens are elated to have Gary Mitchell back safe in the UK after his work assisting the incredible international cave rescue efforts to help locate and free the ‘Wild Boars’ football team in northern Thailand. Gary, who is both Wales Manager for Social Farms & Gardens and Assistant Chairman of the British Cave Rescue Council, flew out from the UK during the recent operation to provide surface support to the UK team of Cave rescuers. After returning home to mid-Wales, Gary shared his reflections on the rescue - and becoming a worldwide news phenomenon.
"This was truly an unprecedented search and rescue operation. There was no blue print for the rescue, there has never been that many casualties, of that age, to consider, never that amount of diving to consider," he explained.
The search and rescue operations were truly an international collaboration . While in Thailand Gary and the UK team worked with the American and Australian military, representatives from China, Thai Navy, Army and Military Police, as well and political leaders and many civilian volunteers who worked tirelessly to divert waters away from the cave system and ensured the rescue team were well fed, watered and every need was accommodated. At times the pressure of the rescue operation was almost crippling, especially on the first day of the actual rescue attempt.
But Gary said the the encouragement the team received throughout the rescue was unbelievable: "All the support that we received from back home and across the world has really helped in every step of the way."
Happy to be back home with his family and getting back in to the swing of things in Wales, Gary is concentrating again on Social Farms & Gardens work, including the Royal Welsh Show – the largest agricultural show in Europe. Gary has been an employee of Social Farms & Gardens (formerly the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens) for a good number of years and it has always been known that he, as part of his Cave Rescue volunteering, is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However, Gary acknowledged that it is only through the support of employers such as Social Farms & Gardens that Gary (and other rescue team members) are able to drop what they are doing to assist those in need. Without such understanding employers this would not be possible, he said.