Staff and students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have paid tribute to the ‘remarkable’ Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who tragically died in a helicopter crash on Saturday.
Mr Vichai was one of five people on board a helicopter which crashed outside Leicester City’s King Power Stadium following their match against West Ham United on Saturday evening.
The Thai businessman bought Leicester City in 2010 when the club were in the Championship. Having overseen a dramatic promotion to the Premier League, in 2015/16 the club started its top tier season as 5000/1 outsiders.
But in one the most remarkable football stories of all time, the Foxes won the Premier League title that year, bringing huge celebrations and a global focus to the club and the city.
Mr Vichai became well-known for his generosity, often gifting fans doughnuts and beer on his birthday and buying players on the title-winning squad a £100,000 BMW each. He brought that same generosity to the city of Leicester, donating £2million to help build a new children’s hospital in Leicestershire in 2016.
DMU Vice-Chancellor Professor Dominic Shellard described the impact that the football club’s owner had on the university and the city of Leicester.
He said: “It is impossible to overestimate the impact Leicester City have had on our city. An immaculately run club, with owners deeply devoted to the local community, delivering the miracle of the Premier League win and always so very kind and generous.
“We cherish our university’s long-standing partnership with Leicester City, which has delivered so much for us through our joint efforts, often at the prompting of the owner.
“Our worst fears have been confirmed after Saturday’s devastating helicopter crash. DMU sends its deepest condolences to the families of the five victims of the crash.”
Professor Shellard also announced that a minute’s silence and a minute’s applause will be held on campus in Hawthorn Square at 10.45am on Tuesday (30 October) to pay tribute to Khun Vichai and the four other victims.
He added: “I invite you to gather with me at 10.45am on Tuesday in Hawthorn Square to remember them all with a minute’s silence and a minute’s applause - and to pay tribute to Khun Vichai's remarkable leadership of his remarkable club.”
DMU’s men’s football club were one of many student sports clubs who used social media to share their sympathies with the families of those affected by the tragedy.
They tweeted: “A man that brought so much joy to our city. Our sincerest condolences to the family and all of those affected at @LCFC. We will continue to live on the legacy that Mr Srivaddhanaprabha has bought to the city and to the great football club. #OneFamily #RIP”
DMU’s women’s football club said they would be going to the King Power Stadium to pay their respects today.
DMU’s rowing club highlighted the inspiration that Mr Vichai had given them and thanked the emergency services for their response to the crash.
They tweeted: “Sombre mood this morning at the Watershed as we learn more about the awful incident that happened last night. The @LCFC story united our city and told us to dream the impossible and it’s why we are here now, training hard. #fearless #VichaiSrivaddhanaprabha
“We’d also like to say a big thank you to our #heroes: the emergency services, who as usual ran towards the danger, especially the @leicspolice officers who were on the scene first, trying to pull people out @LeicsFireRescue @EMASNHSTrust @Leics_hospital”
Staff members from the university were united in an outpouring of sorrow for those involved. Gavin Dingwall, Professor of Criminal Justice Policy, said that Leicester was ‘a city in grief’ following the incident.
Grace Morgan, Sports and Participation Communications Officer and a former member of DMU women’s football club, said: “Because of you Leicester City Football Club are on the map, out of debt and champions of England that are no longer laughed at. You were the best thing that could have happened to our football club. Thank you Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.”
Sam Weston tweeted: “All thoughts with the families of those lost in the weekend’s tragedy and with the players, staff, and all associated with @LCFC.”
Laurence Brooks, Director of DMU’s Doctoral College, added: “Very sad news and a great loss to LCFC and Leicester as a whole.”
Students and staff are encouraged to gather in Hawthorn Square at 10.45am on Tuesday to pay their respects to the five victims of the tragedy.
Posted on Monday 29th October 2018