Wat Phra Singh UK temple in Runcorn’s Old Town has celebrated its 11th anniversary and the newly built community Peace Garden with a ‘Si Ra Reuk’ ceremony.

The ceremony attracted over 500 people from around the area. Attendees made wishes, took part in Thai traditions, and listened to traditional Thai chants, recited by resident monks and those who travelled from the parent temple in Chiang Mai. Several dignitaries and special guests were in attendance, with some guests describing the event as a ‘memorable day’ and ‘mind-blowing.’ Dr Francis Farrell a senior lecturer from Edge Hill University said: “It has left a deep impression on my heart and mind. The chanting will resonate within.”

The next significant event for the temple will be the arrival of the 6-metre-tall bronze Chedi statue, which will be erected at the centre of the Peace Garden, for all to enjoy. This has been gifted from benefactors at the parent temple in Thailand. The Chedi has travelled 5,644 miles to arrive into the UK on its intercontinental voyage.

The Peace Garden has been made possible by the funding from the Reconnecting Runcorn project, which has invested £23.6million from the Towns Fund as part of the UK Governments Levelling up agenda into eight projects incorporating 14 strands throughout Runcorn, to drive sustainable long term economic and productivity growth through the regeneration of the town. The temple’s projects are helping invigorate and enhance the connections locally and providing a unique visitor attraction to the town of Runcorn.

Damian Cooke, Director of Economy, Enterprise and Property at Halton Borough Council, says: ‘The Buddhist temple and peace garden in Runcorn is a fantastic asset to the town and it was great to see it awash with colour when monks, dignitaries and friends came from near and far to join us for the celebrations and the blessing of the garden in advance of the Chedi arriving in a few weeks. This is one of the many Towns Deal projects which will transform the old town and bring pride back to a place which was once a thriving centre of activity and community.”

The temple was a former pub and the focal point for social gatherings in TV sitcom, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps. Susan Nickson, writer and creator of the show, visited the temple back in February when the groundwork was just beginning on the Peace Garden and came back for the event.

Sharing her thoughts on the progress Susan said: “This building has held many happy memories for me for much of my life.  I’m delighted that with Tony and the team behind the Peace Garden and the Foundation Ceremony I now have many more. I hope all the hard work, and the imminent arrival of the Chedi, brings much joy to the town – it’s a very special moment in Runcorn’s history.”

What’s next for the Peace Garden? An unveiling ceremony of the Chedi will take place in September, that will look to include a taste of what the community experienced at the June ceremony. So, if you didn’t get the chance to see the ceremony, you don’t want to miss out. Follow along the rest of the journey with Wat Phra Singh UK and Halton Borough Council as the final touches are made to the Peace Garden.

More information can be found here: https://reconnectingruncorn.info/