Sunday 26 May 2019

Heroic Irish diver who took part in Thai cave rescue opens up about the emotional aftermath

Jim Warny told the Pendulum summit in Dublin that he is 'just a person with a specific skill'

Pendulum Summit 2019. Thai cave rescue diver Jim Warny in conversation with presenter Sile Seoige
Picture: Gerry Mooney
Pendulum Summit 2019. Thai cave rescue diver Jim Warny in conversation with presenter Sile Seoige Picture: Gerry Mooney
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

It took around six months after the traumatic rescue of the children from a cave in Thailand for emotions to catch up with Jim Warny, he admitted today.

The Co Clare based expert cave diver claimed that while people think of him as “a bit of a hero,” that he is “just a person with a specific skill.”

Mr Warny, a Belgian national, assisted in the highly risky rescue of 12 boys and their football coach from a deep cave in Northern Thailand last July.

The boys had spent 17 days underground.

Pendulum Summit 2019: Thai cave rescue diver Jim Warny in conversation with presenter Sile Seoige Picture: Gerry Mooney
Pendulum Summit 2019: Thai cave rescue diver Jim Warny in conversation with presenter Sile Seoige Picture: Gerry Mooney

Mr Warny told the Pendulum summit in Dublin that around six months afterwards, he was suddenly triggered while watching a pre-recorded documentary that he had made.

He said he had suddenly become “very quiet” and that he was not ashamed to say he had “cried for 15 minutes”.

He had put his emotions on hold after the children had been taken from the cave and even when he was “dragging one of them along,” he said.

“I was just doing my job. I was assigned,” he said.

He told delegates that he had become involved in the rescue after texting one of the divers he knew taking part in the operation telling him to be safe and that he was there if he needed him. He did not expect such a quick reply, he quipped.

Describing cave diving as “calculated risk taking” he said you have to just manage that risk.

Rescue personnel work at the Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai. Photo: Reuters
Rescue personnel work at the Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai. Photo: Reuters

He had come from the “scary experience of the cave to the scary experience of the media circus” he said, admitting he did not know how the world would receive it.

But life hasn’t changed a whole lot, said Mr Warny.

He feels it is now his responsibility to tell the story and enjoys doing so.

People “think I’m a bit of a hero but I’m just a person with a specific skill,” he insisted.

About 3,000 attendees were in attendance at the Convention Centre Dublin for the annual Pendulum Summit, a business-themed motivational conference organised by former Munster rugby star Frankie Sheahan.

The two-day event is expected to attract some 6,000 delegates to hear speakers including Leinster rugby backroom coach Stuart Lancaster, US media personality Ruby Wax, and a host of motivational speakers.

Tomorrow, Boris Johnson, the Uk politician and prominent Brexiteer is due to speak at the event.

The event kicked off with a speech by US-based graffiti artist and motivational speaker Erik Wahl, who urged the crowd to unlock their creativity for business success and gave away a quick painted portrait of Bono to a member of the audience who had taken a risk by agreeing to take part in his presentation.

Among those in attendance are recent presidential candidates Gavin Duffy, his wife Orlaith Carmody and Sean Gallagher.

Online Editors

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