Leicester City Family Opens VS Memorial Garden On One-Year Anniversary

The Leicester City family came together on Sunday 27 October for the opening of the Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Memorial Garden at King Power Stadium.
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Memorial Garden opening service
More on this story...

Opened on the first anniversary of the helicopter accident that claimed the life of the Club’s beloved late Chairman – along with staff members Kaveporn Punpare and Nusara Suknamai; and pilots Eric Swaffer and Izabela Lechowicz – the garden has been designed to protect the accident site and to form a permanent tribute to the lives lost that night.

Leicester City senior management, players and Club staff were joined by family members of both Eric and Izabela for a multi-faith ceremony to open the garden, while Chairman Khun Aiyawatt and the Srivaddhanaprabha family observed an anniversary ceremony in Thailand.

Proceedings in Leicester began with a chanting ceremony led by Buddhist monks – a familiar custom during King Power’s near-10-year ownership – followed by readings and reflections from the city’s leaders of the Christian, Islamic, Sikh, Hindu and Jewish faiths.

Expand photo
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Memorial Garden opening service
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Memorial Garden opening service

The congregation were then invited into the garden, where a tribute well has been built around the helicopter’s landing place. Guests were invited to cast small parcels of hand-written tributes – left in their thousands by supporters in the days following the accident – into the tribute well, which was then permanently sealed.

In the coming weeks, an outdoor, interactive digital display will be installed in the garden, where supporters will be able to see every one of those hand-written tributes, which have been individually scanned and stored for perpetuity. Those messages of tribute, of thanks and of love will become a permanent fixture, visible to every visitor to the memorial garden.

Following the ceremony, the garden was opened to the public, with supporters arriving throughout the afternoon and early evening to pay their respects and leave further tributes.

Expand photo
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Memorial Garden opening service
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Memorial Garden opening service

Leicester City CEO Susan Whelan said: “It has been a day of reflection for everyone. But, as well as being a tribute to all the lives lost that night, the memorial garden will serve as a reminder of what Khun Vichai did for Leicester City – what has been achieved under his leadership has been incredible.

“We felt that a memorial garden, and the symbolism associated with the cycle of life and growth in a garden, would be an appropriate tribute. The garden is inspired by the garden in his house in England. A sculpture of  his favourite dog, Hero, has been placed beside a bench, facing the stadium. The water and fountain features are significant symbols in Thai culture, and we felt that to add a topiary elephant to represent Khun Vichai's love of Thailand, a horse for his love of polo and horse racing, and of course a fox for his most beloved Leicester City, would have brought a smile to his eyes. I think he would be very proud of how all of the players, the staff and their families and the fans have all come together today, and over the course of the last year, to hold each other up, and to support each other. The participation of our staff and fans during the construction of the garden would have been very important for him also.

“We have planted four cherry trees and placed a plaque in the garden in honour of Eric, Izabela, Kaveporn and Nusara.

Expand photo
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Memorial Garden opening service
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Memorial Garden opening service

“We will continue to honour Khun Vichai’s life and his legacy, and support Khun Top as he leads the Club in the future. This garden, will serve as a place of remembrance and reflection for everyone who lost loved ones on that night, and a place of calm and serenity for all fans – both of Leicester City and opposition clubs.”

The floral tributes left so lovingly by people from the Leicester community and far beyond in the days which followed the accident have been composted and used to support the growth and development of the garden’s planting scheme.

In a continuation of the community spirit showed by the Leicester public, supporters and staff alike were invited to participate in the completion of the garden over the past week ahead of Sunday’s opening.

The Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Memorial Garden is now open to the public during daylight hours, with parking available on Car Park E (accessible off Raw Dykes Road) throughout the day.

Latest News

Latest Galleries

Latest Videos

Leicester City Crest

Latest News

Latest Videos

Latest Images