Leicester

Leicester City fans in '5,000-1' walk for helicopter crash victims

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Media captionLeicester football fans marched in their thousands ahead of a match against Burnley

Thousands of Leicester City fans have taken part in a memorial walk in honour of those killed in a helicopter crash outside the club's stadium.

Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was among five people who died when the aircraft came down on 27 October.

The 5,000-1 walk was named after the odds the club overcame to net their "fairytale" 2016 Premier League win.

The streets heaved with supporters as they marched to the King Power Stadium before their 0-0 draw with Burnley.

On Friday, the club announced plans to erect a statue of the chairman at the ground.

Image caption Megan Elliott, 14, and her sister Casey, 11, originally asked for 5,000 fans to join the walk

The idea for the memorial walk came from young supporters Megan Elliott, 14, and her sister Casey, 11, who initially appealed for 5,000 fans to march to the stadium in honour of the Thai billionaire.

Megan said: "I never thought it would end up this big.

"When we met Vichai in Madrid [during a tie against Atletico Madrid] he was lovely, cheerful and happy.

"Today shows how loved and respected he was. Not just by the club but by the entire community."

Snooker player and Leicester fan Willie Thorne led the opening speeches in Jubilee Square.

"Today is all about celebrating the life of Vichai," he said.

Mr Thorne added: "We have Burnley fans, Leeds fans, Sheffield United fans and Doncaster fans here. Today is all about celebrating the life of Vichai.

"Is there any other chairman in the world who would be so supported? He should never be forgotten."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Vichai’s son and vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha (centre) at the memorial site

Foxes fan Carren Arscott, who joined the walk, said she was "prouder" of the club and city than she had been after the Premier League title.

"We came together in joy but we've come together even more in grief," she said.

Alps Khakhar, from South Wigston, said Mr Vichai turned Leicester into a "family club" and was a "father figure" to all.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A sea of blue made its way to the King Power Stadium
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Peter Schmeichel, father of Leicester goalkeeper Kasper, was at the game

The walk started at Jubilee Square at 12:45 GMT and followed a route towards the De Montfort University campus and along the riverside to the King Power Stadium.

At the scene - Nick Smith, BBC News

As thousands of fans approached the King Power Stadium, they began chanting: "Champions of England, you made us sing that".

The weather went from blue skies to heavy rain in the space of 30 minutes but it did nothing to silence the crowds who sang their hearts out.

They were led by members of the Foxes squad, including England's Harry Maguire.

The train of people stretched back from Clock Tower in the city centre all the way to the memorial site where many tributes have been placed.

Tributes left outside the stadium following the crash were moved to a designated memorial area close to the accident site on Friday.

Leicester's players wore shirts with their former owner's name embroidered on them for the game, and a tribute video was shown before kick-off.

Fans were given commemorative scarves, pin badges, clappers and programmes in honour of Mr Vichai.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Fans were walking to honour Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who bought the club in 2010

A two-minute silence was observed prior to the game in memory of servicemen and women, as well as the five who died in the crash.

An inquest, opened on Tuesday, heard there was "minimal chance" for anyone on board the helicopter to survive.

Players and staff attended the start of Mr Vichai's seven-day funeral in Thailand earlier in the week.

Image copyright Getty Images/Facebook/Instagram
Image caption (L-R): Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, Kaveporn Punpare, Nusara Suknamai, Izabela Roza Lechowicz and Eric Swaffer were killed in the crash on 27 October

Two members of Mr Vichai's staff - Kaveporn Punpare and Nusara Suknamai - as well as pilots and partners Eric Swaffer and Izabela Roza Lechowicz were also killed in the crash.

Police have said Ms Lechowicz was a passenger at the time.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is investigating the cause.

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