Richard Stanton, left, and John Volanthen arrive in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand on July 3, 2018. File picture: AP

London - British divers who played a key role in the rescue of a boys football team from a flooded Thai cave in July have been decorated in recognition of their efforts, the Press Association (PA) reported Saturday.

Richard Stanton and John Volanthen, who were the first divers to reach the children, were awarded the George Medal, the second-highest civilian gallantry award, announced alongside Britain's annual New Year Honours list.

Expat Vern Unsworth, 63, who lives in Thailand, received an MBE (Member of the British Empire) award, alongside Joshua Bratchley and Lance Corporal Connor Roe, 26, from Scotland.

Christopher Jewell and Jason Mallinson, 50, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, received the Queen's Gallantry Medal for exemplary acts of bravery.

"This was a team effort, and I'm very honoured to have been recognised, particularly as you don't engage in a major rescue expecting this outcome," Unsworth told PA in a reaction to the award.

Unsworth was part of an international team of divers involved in the successful effort to extract 12 boys and their 25-year-old football coach from Tham Luang Nang Non cave in northern Thailand.

The football team spent more than two weeks deep inside the cave, stranded there after flash floods blocked their only exit.

The diving team ushered them to safety in a complicated and dangerous mission amidst a forecast of heavy rain which threatened to raise the water levels.