Thai cave rescue - Knighthood bestowed on our Wales Manager

News item first posted on: 04/02/20

On Monday this week our very own SF&G Wales Manager Gary Mitchell (also of South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team, and Assistant Chair to the British Cave Rescue Council) was awarded a Royal Decoration of the Kingdom of Thailand at a ceremony in the Thailand embassy ballroom, London.

Gary joined other UK members of the cave rescue team for the award ceremony. The team successfully helped to rescue 12 members of the Moo Pa Wild Boars football team and their coach that were trapped deep inside the Tham Luang cave in Northern Thailand back in June 2018.    

Gary dropped his work commitments and family obligations (he has two young children of his own) and travelled to Thailand to assist in this global event after receiving a phonecall for his assistance upon arrival at the SF&G’s Cardiff Office – he was on a flight to Thailand later that day, where we remained for a little over 7 days helping to co-ordinate the ‘impossible’ rescue mission.

Gary and other rescue colleagues were awarded the Royal Decoration of the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn.  He received the appointment of ‘Knight Commander’ 2nd Class. 

The ceremony was performed by His Excellence Mr. Pisanu Suvanajata, Ambassador of Thailand. As well as receiving the medals and decorations Gary was presented with a certificate signed by General (Ret.) Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand expressing his gratitude ‘for the selfless acts performed to help fellow human beings in danger’. The rescuers were also each presented with a letter signed by The king of Thailand, where one of the sentences reads:

"This circumstance has clearly shown the power of unity in action, power of love and goodwill towards fellow men regardless of race and religious beliefs."


Gary was accompanied to the ceremony by his good friend Heledd Poole, whom now resides in London. 

We are so proud of this amazing feat.



The rescue effort involved over 10,000 people including more than 100 divers, scores of rescue workers, representatives from about 100 governmental agencies, 900 police officers, and 2,000 soldiers; and it required ten police helicopters, seven ambulances, more than 700 diving cylinders, and the pumping of more than a billion litres of water from the caves.