In 2004 Than Thirasak was residing at Wat Mahathat in Kings Bromley under the tutelage of Ajahn Laow, and he became friends with Tony Collacott, one of Wat Mahathat’s trustees and his wife, Kwanjit. He returned to his home temple, Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai in 2007 and was visited by Tony and Kwanjit.
Tony had considered ordination for some years and Than Thirasak introduced him to Luang Por Nuu, the then Abbot of Wat Phra Singh who consented to his ordination there. After a year of study and preparation Tony ordained in October 2008 and found his short time as a monk deeply moving.
Luang Por Nuu passed away shortly after Tony had disrobed so he became Luang Por’s last Look Sit, or ordinand. Tony and Kwanjit attended the cremation in December 2009 where they made a promise to Luang Por Nuu and to the new Abbot, Luang Por Sopano that they would do something to repay the honour they had received.
At the time it wasn’t really known what that promise would be, but soon an idea was to be formed that perhaps a temple could be established in the UK that would become the fruit of that promise.
In late 2011 a letter was written to the Venerable Phrarajsinghavoramunee, also known as Luang Por Sopano, Abbot of Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai, Thailand seeking his permission to allow the establishment of a temple in Cheshire, UK as the first overseas branch of his temple.
Luang Por considered the request then approached all the senior monks of the Northern Thai temples seeking their views. They gave their unanimous blessings, and Luang Por agreed that the founding trustees could go ahead. A letter was then sent to The Venerable Phra Rajchabhavanavimol, Abbot of Wat Buddhapadipa, Wimbledon also seeking his permission to establish a new Thai Theravada tradition temple in the UK, and he too gave his full support and blessing.
With these permissions in place an invitation was sent to Than Thirasak and Phra Kru Charin of Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai for them to visit the UK to begin the establishment of the new temple. They arrived on 2 June 2012 and stayed at the home of Tony and Kwanjit in Helsby, Cheshire. On that day we had nothing other than an idea and good intentions – within four months we had established a charity, grown a support base and found a suitable property. With the incredible generosity of our fast increasing number of supporters we were able to acquire what was The Waterloo Hotel in Runcorn Cheshire. The property and location proved to be perfect for our needs, and we completed the purchase on 18 January 2013.