Rick and Jason: the two degrees …

Jason Mallinson receives his degree at the University of Huddersfield University. Photo courtesy of the University of Huddersfield media office.

Two of last summer’s Thai cave rescue heroes have been awarded honorary degrees from UK universities.

Rick Stanton is to receive the award from his old university, Aston in Birmingham.

The 58-year-old started his cave diving career as a member of Aston Diving Club during his time at Aston University between 1979 and 1982. He then spent 25 years as a firefighter with the West Midlands Fire Service before retiring in 2014.

Rick said: “I’m extremely proud to be awarded in this manner by my original university and recognised for the innovative concepts I have developed for practical application.”

Jason Mallinson, 51, has also received an honorary doctorate from Huddersfield, his hometown university. He began caving in the Yorkshire Dales in 1985.

He told students at the graduation ceremony: “Don’t miss out on opportunities to do something different, something outside the box. You never know where they might take you. Be confident in your abilities and ignore your detractors.

“I could never imagine that I would be stood here to receive this honour for doing something that comes naturally to me and for which I have had a passion for most of my life.”

Both Rick and Jason were key members of the team who devised and carried out the dramatic three-day rescue after 12 members of the Wild Boars football team and their coach were trapped 4km inside the Tham Luang cave last summer following heavy rains.

Rick was awarded the George Medal and Jason the Queen’s Gallantry Medal in the 2019 New Year’s honours list.

Honorary degrees are generally awarded for excellence in a field or special service to that university.