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John Volanthen

Record-Holding Cave Diver and Thai Cave Rescue Hero whose story inspired the Ron Howard movie Thirteen Lives
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In July of 2018, the world held its breath while British cave diver John Volanthen and his partner raced against time to find the 12-boy soccer team and coach trapped for 10 days in Thailand’s Tham Luang Cave.

With a passion for cave exploration that began in scouts at the age of 14, Volanthen went on to set world records in cave diving and to acquire an extremely rare level of expertise and skill. As volunteers for multiple cave diving rescue organizations, he and diving partner Rick Stanton were known as one of the world’s most accomplished cave-diving and rescue teams, and they were among the first experts brought to Thailand to support the rescue operation. Ultimately, they were the first to reach the stranded boys—after which they helped plan and carry out the incredibly dangerous and painstaking effort to save all thirteen lives.

In John’s riveting multi-media presentation, audiences experience “the rescue of the century” firsthand. A quiet man who initially resisted all interview requests, Volanthen repeatedly found himself wanting people to understand that it wasn’t a question of luck, or miracles, or even heroism—he was an ordinary person. In his 30 years of cave exploration and rescue work he had become convinced that the ability to respond effectively in times of crisis and uncertainty can be learned by anyone. In his book and with audiences around the world, he shares the lessons of diligent preparation, deliberate focus and decisive leadership that he believes are critical to any success.

Volanthen captured the dramatic story of the Tham Luang Cave rescue in his book, Thirteen Lessons That Saved Thirteen Lives—a story that also inspired The Rescue, an award-winning documentary from National Geographic. In 2022, his book moves to the silver screen in the major motion picture Thirteen Lives, directed by Ron Howard with Colin Farrell playing the part of John Volanthen.

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