The 51-year-old, from Coventry, has become arguably the main British face of cave diving and is recognised as having advanced the skills involved in tackling underground systems.  

Publicly, however, he has hit the news particularly for his role in cave diving search and rescue missions.

Commenting on the reason for his award, Stanton told Divernet: “It is primarily for my involvement in technical overseas cave diving rescues and recoveries.”

The work, which involved “entirely voluntary service”, had come about as a natural extension of his instinct for submerged cave exploration, which Stanton, a fireman by profession, regards as “my hobby.

Stanton also expressed his wish that, in his role as a leading member of Britain’s cave diving community, the MBE would reflect “both the physical and technological advances that I have made”, as well as his having been hopefully “a suitable ambassador” for the discipline.

The award is the second to come Stanton’s way in a matter of months. In October last year he received a Bronze Medal from the Royal Humane Society for his attempt in 2010 to rescue French diver Eric Establie from the Ardeche Gorge, near Marseille. Sadly, Establie was found dead.

On another occasion, Stanton led a team which managed to save six British soldiers who had become trapped in rising flood water in a cave in Mexico.

Stanton’s cave diving CV is long, but a few stand-outs can be mentioned.

He first made his name exploring the Emergence du Ressel in the Lot Department of France, between 1998 and 2001. 

During 2004-05, significant progress was made at Wookey Hole in Somerset when Stanton carried out demanding restricted cave diving involving underwater digging and set the UK cave diving depth record of the time at 90m.

In 2008, he helped push the Tannerie resurgence in the Ardeche to 222m deep, over 1000m from the entrance.

The next year he joined the British team which, from 2009-11, explored the Pozo Azul cave in north Spain to almost 10km underwater through 3 sumps – a world record cave dive distance.

Projects for this year include continued exploration of caves in Sardinia, which Stanton has visited for the past five years.