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Cave diving doctor named South Australian of the year

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Cave diving hero and Adelaide anaesthetist Richard “Harry” Harris has been named the South Australian of the Year for 2019.

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Harris shot to international fame in July when he played a key role in the rescue of 12 young soccer players and their coach from the flooded Chiang Rai cave in Thailand.

Using his medical skills and 30 years of cave diving experience, he was crucial to the successful operation that captured worldwide attention.

Harris was about to leave for a cave-diving holiday when he received the call for help and immediately travelled to Thailand with Perth diving buddy Craig Challen.

Along with other rescue divers, the pair navigated the narrow cave system to assess the health of those trapped, giving the medical all-clear for each evacuee and administering an anaesthetic to help with their rescue.

After the 18-day operation, they were also presented with bravery awards by the federal government as were a group of Australian defence and police specialists.

Challen was this week named the Western Australian of the Year and the two friends will now head to Canberra in January for the naming of the Australian of the Year.

In other SA awards announced on Thursday, the first women to umpire an AFL game, Eleni Glouftsis, was named the Young South Australian of the Year; Arabunna elder Reg Dodd was named the Senior of the Year; and organ donation advocate Megan McLoughlin, the South Australian Local Hero.

Glouftsis, 26, began her umpiring career while in high school and went on to officiate in the South Australian National Football League and the Victorian Football League before breaking into the AFL in 2017.

Premier Steven Marshall said all the award winners were inspirational for their achievements and contributions to SA.

“Each individual recognised has conducted themselves with passion and integrity; whether it be using their skills to help others at great risk, to forge a new path which others may follow, to preserve culture and country or overcome their own challenges to make a difference for others in need,” he said.

– AAP

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