Diver Who Risked Life In Thai Cave Rescue Named Australian Of The Year Nominee

The retired Perth veterinarian who helped rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded Thai cave has been named the West Australian nominee for Australian of the Year.

Craig Challen and his dive partner, Adelaide anaesthetist Richard Harris, have already received the rare Star of Courage for their roles in the risky July rescue mission in Chiang Rai.

Working up to 12 hours a day, Challen repeatedly risked his life as the children were ushered through the narrow, dark caves.

Challen was announced as the recipient of the WA Australian of the Year award at Government House in Perth on Tuesday.

Nearly four months on from the extraordinary rescue that captured the world's attention, Challen said the term 'hero' still sits "very umcomfortably" with him.

"I don't see us as heroes, we never thought we were going to die or anything like that, we were there to do the job and that's the environment we're comfortable  in," he told 10 News First.

Being named the WA Australian of the Year is still taking "a little bit of getting used to," Challen said.

He said Australians should take more notice of the Awards and the stories of the people who receives them.

"There's so many great stories out there and people doing all these things that you never hear about and you get an event like that where they get recognised."

READ MORE: The Thai Cave Rescue Was Minutes Away From Catastrophe

READ MORE: Hero Divers Tell Of Harrowing Rescue Of Thai Soccer Team

WA's Senior Australian of the Year is 73-year-old Yamatji elder, ex-army serviceman and volunteer Frank Mallard, who saw active duty in Borneo and Vietnam.

The WA Young Australian of the Year is 24-year-old feminist, activist and law reformist Noelle Martin, while the local hero is basketballer and researcher Cheryl Kickett-Tucker.

Lead photo: AAP