It was a story which made headlines around the world, and now the dramatic rescue of 12 schoolboy footballers from a water-filled cave is to be made into a movie.
The news was revealed during a presentation on the Tham Luang Cave Rescue, organised by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, by two of those involved in the dramatic rescue.
Presenters Mike Clayton and Emma Porter, of Bridgnorth, who were both involved in the dramatic rescue which captured world interest, told an audience of nearly 200 that there would also be ‘probably a few things in the future happening.’
They delivered a two-hour presentation of the cave rescue, and the surprise disclosure about the film was revealed during questions with the audience.
The evening, at The Clayton Hall, Shrewsbury Colleges Group, London Road, raised £2,700 jointly for the Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation and the League of Friends at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.
The presentation began with Mike and Emma describing their long involvement with the Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation.
It was the most intense three weeks of my life.”
Mike is equipment officer for the British Cave Rescue Council and chair of the Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation, for whom Emma serves as secretary.
Everyone who was involved in the cave rescue is a volunteer and they go out caving in Thailand every year.
Mike went out to Thailand for the rescue as a service controller/diver support to make the equipment checking as hassle-free as possible so that the divers could concentrate on the diving.
During the Thai rescue, Emma managed the UK operations and logistics around the clock for three weeks which she described as the ‘most intense three weeks of my life’.
Everyone who was involved in the cave rescue is a volunteer and they go out caving in Thailand every year.”
Emma, who was at the centre of communications from an office in her home at Hampton Loade in Shropshire, hardly had any sleep for three weeks.
Every morning at 3am British time – 3pm in Thailand – the divers were giving her an update.
“Little did I know that at three in the morning I was going to get called,” she told the audience.
“It was strange really because the operation was being run from our house at Hampton Loade. I just had to be near the phone and have access to the internet.”
As soon as the boys were found Emma never left the house as the media, in her words, ‘went berserk’. She was being contacted by email and telephone, while receiving messages on Facebook which she described as ‘absolutely crazy’.
She started putting together press releases and described the media as very good.
Although the whole rescue was a massive success, 13 came out alive which no-one really expected at the time, what we need to remember is someone did lose their life in former Thai navy diver Saman Gunan.”
Emma added: “You hear bad things about the media, but they listened to us and worked with us on this.”
The group, a 12-strong youth football team called the Wild Boars, thought they would go on a caving trip with their assistant coach after football practice.
They cycled to Thang from their town, Mae Sai. They had got a long way down the cave when, 800 metres from the entrance, they were stopped by water following a massive downpour.
The youngsters and their coach headed back into the cave and waited to be rescued.
Criticism of the coach for taking them in there was rejected by Mike. “It was an instinct adventure,” he said. “They were unlucky, that was all. There was no reason to criticise them or the coach for going into the cave.”
Two members of the Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation found four people who they had no idea were in the cave. Nobody knew the men, engineers, had been in there for 24 hours.
First boys 'rescued from Thailand cave' https://t.co/86U00UcvHn
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) July 8, 2018
It was feared the boys would not live because of the desperate conditions and the high water levels making it impossible to bring them out. The divers were under immense pressure.
The rescue team actively tried to drain water out of the cave, but with the amount of rain it was never going to work.
When they did find the boys, which they couldn’t believe, it was a question of ‘how on earth are we going to get them out of the cave?’
The rescuers did not expect to find the boys alive. They had thought that if one of the boys came out alive, that would be a success. They had been trapped in the cave for 12 days with almost no food. The coach said they were drinking drips of water coming off the rock.
“That was one thing he did to keep the boys alive and he also taught them meditation,” Mike told the audience.
A critical part of the rescue was to sedate the boys, apply face masks and give them pure oxygen.
The rescue, for which the King of Thailand had given permission, took three days to complete thanks to sheer good luck when everyone came out of the cave safely.
Mike added: “Although the whole rescue was a massive success, 13 came out alive which no-one really expected at the time, what we need to remember is someone did lose their life in former Thai navy diver Saman Gunan.”
Following the rescue, Mike and Emma said they had been treated like royalty. It had all been a whirlwind experience which had changed their lives.