Rick Stanton, MBE is a British cave diver who specializes in rescues through the Cave Rescue Organisation and the British Cave Rescue Council. He learnt to dive while at university in 1979 and has been at the forefront of British cave diving for the best part of three decades. He has been called “one of the world’s most accomplished cave-divers”, “the face of British cave diving,” and “the best cave diver in Europe”. Stanton is from Coventry and was formerly a firefighter with the West Midlands Fire Service for 25 years prior to his retirement. In 2018 he played a leading role in the Tham Luang Thailand cave rescue.
Stanton usually cave dives and conducts rescues with a partner, John Volanthen. In 2004 he was involved in the rescue of six British cavers who were trapped in a cave at the Alpazat caverns in Mexico for eight days.
He was also part of a team that attempted a cave rescue of Eric Establie, in the Dragonnière Gaud Cave near Labastide-de-Virac in the Ardèche region of France, in 2010 which was ultimately unsuccessful.
In 2011, Stanton assisted in the recovery of the body of Polish cave diver Artur Kozłowski from Pollonora cave at Kiltartan, Ireland.
Norwegian authorities asked him to assist to recover the bodies of two Finnish divers from Jordbrugrott in 2014, but after diving down to the site he and his colleagues deemed the operation too risky.
In 2018, he played a key role in locating and rescuing the youth soccer team in the Tham Luang Thailand cave rescue. After locating and participating in the rescue of the missing team and its coach, Stanton said that he and the other cave divers involved were not heroes, saying, “We’re just using a very unique skill set, which we normally use for our own interest and sometimes we’re able to use that to give something back to the community.
He evolved into technical cave exploration using rebreathers, (often two at a time) for extreme long penetration and depth and concentrated on the long deep siphons of Northern Europe.
In 2004 Stanton and Volanthen set a world record for greatest depth achieved in a British cave, cave diving 76 m (249 ft) at Wookey Hole in Somerset. In 2010 Stanton, Volanthen, Jason Mallinson, and René Houben set a world record for longest cave penetration dive, obtaining 8,800 m (28,900 ft) in the Pozo Azul cave system in the Rudrón Valley in Spain
He has explored caves mainly in the Lot region of SW France, but notably his early dives at the popular site of the Emergence de Ressel in southern France where he surpassed the legendary Swiss divers Olivier Islers previous records. This led to a three year project along with his partner Jason Mallinson involving dives totalling a distance of over 4000m in five separate sumps which involved spending two days bivouaked inside the cave.
He has explored the Pearse Resurgence cave system, in New Zealand during which he established a record-breaking dive to a depth of 177-metres . Later that same year he also undertook a long penetration at a depth of 180m in the St Sauveur in France on a dive of nearly 17 hours duration. That was later followed by a 220m deep dive in the Goule de Tannerie.
Rick is a regular Eurotek attendee who was awarded the ‘diver of the conference’ at very first EUROTEK back in 2008.