And so the terrible, heartbreaking news has been confirmed. King Power International Group and Leicester City Football Club owner and Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha has passed away after a helicopter crash close to the football club’s ground on Saturday evening.
Khun Vichai’s death will cast a giant shadow over The Trinity Forum, which begins in Shanghai in two days.
I have just arrived in the city but in common with many people in our industry am in shock at the news.
Leicester City Football Club issued a statement on Sunday night UK time, saying: “The primary thoughts of everyone at the Club are with the Srivaddhanaprabha family and the families of all those onboard at this time of unspeakable loss.
“In Khun Vichai, the world has lost a great man. A man of kindness, of generosity and a man whose life was defined by the love he devoted to his family and those he so successfully led.”
I discovered the news of the crash as the Wi-Fi system on my British Airways flight kicked in 35,000 feet over my old haunt of Novosibirsk, Siberia. I always associate flying over the city with reflective moments in the sky during my journeys to or from Asia. Never did I expect it to be associated with such tragedy.
The events are an unconscionable horror. Our thoughts, love and compassion today are with the Srivaddhanaprabha family, and all involved with Leicester City FC and King Power International Group.
I will add more, perhaps, in a subsequent Blog. For now, I will simply repeat my comments from our main story on MoodieDavittReport.com today.
It is impossible to encapsulate the enormity and tragedy of Khun Vichai’s loss, most of all to family of course, but also to his company, his club, his country which he loved so much – and to our travel retail industry.
Khun Vichai was a man not simply of great achievement but one of compassion, grace and humility. He gave then gave again to all manner of causes, big and small. He touched many people in travel retail, as in his wider life, with individual acts of kindness.
As our industry gathers in Shanghai for the annual Trinity Forum, we will mourn him and remember him. Vichai and his family and company were our hosts for this event last year, as they were in 2011. It was his ardent wish to bring the event back to Bangkok again in 2019. No-one present at either event will forget the trademark Srivaddhanaprabha family warmth and welcome, nor Vichai’s always understated, in fact shy warmth and the innate sense of Thai hospitality.
I must close on a personal note. In 2011 when we first held The Trinity Forum in Bangkok, I was in the early weeks of my recovery from stomach cancer and related surgery. On the first day of the event I was taken seriously ill with post-operative, life-endangering complications.
Khun Vichai personally oversaw that I was treated at the world-class Bumrumgrad International Hospital, but, even more, that his personal physician led my care and visited me each day. After my release a week later, he insisted that I (and a New Zealand friend who flew over to act as my carer) stay at the Pullman Bangkok King Power Hotel as his guests until I was fit enough to fly home. I was not treated as an industry executive but as a family friend.
Such was the measure of this great man. We join everyone in our industry in expressing our deepest sorrow and condolences to Khun Vichai’s family, friends, management and staff on their pain and inconsolable loss. It is a loss in which all who knew him, will share.