Buddhist centre pays tribute to Leicester City boss after tragic helicopter crash

Monks and members of the Dhammakaya Meditation Centre in Hebburn
Monks and members of the Dhammakaya Meditation Centre in Hebburn

The billionaire soccer boss who helped fund a South Tyneside Buddhist centre is being mourned by its members following his death in a helicopter crash.

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, chairman of Premiership club Leicester City, was one of five people to die in the tragic accident last month.

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha

His financial legacy and generosity of spirit are being remembered by attendees of the Dhammakaya Meditation Centre, in Church Street, Hebburn.

They have just completed a week of meditation and chanting in honour of Mr Vichai, who paid for major improvements that helped the centre open five years ago.

Members and volunteers spent 90 minutes each evening over the seven days taking part in the Buddhist ritual, in respect of his legacy to them.

They will again spend time reflecting on his life tomorrow as part the annual Kathina Day, a day-long traditional Buddhist ceremony.

Volunteer Punyar Chitnukulsiri said: “We were very shocked by Mr Vichai’s death, it led to much sadness. The first day that we heard about the helicopter. When news that he had passed was announced, we were very sad.

“Our head monk, Pichit Thitachayo, knew Mr Vichai personally and it was he who contacted his secretary to ask about support. It is a Buddhist tradition that when someone passes away that meditation and chanting takes place.

“After Mr Vichai passed away, we encouraged people from the Tai community to come and chant for him. We even had someone from Leeds come.

“It has been important for people here to show their respect and sadness for Mr Vichai.”

The Dhammakaya Meditation Centre is one of numerous such venues globally to which Mr Vichai gave financial support.

As well as the meditation centre, his donation supported repairs to the former and adjoining St Andrew’s Church, which is now a temple.

Mr Vichai died on Saturday, October 27, when his helicopter crashed outside Leicester City’s King Power stadium.

People are welcome to attend Kathina Day, which starts with Buddhist chanting and meditation at 9.15am.

Events during the day, which concludes at 3pm, include the ceremony of the stained-glass windows installation, and the Kathina procession and Kathina robe passing.