Tom Coghlan Owner of CSP Projects
I began our interview by asking Tom how long he had been in Pattaya? He told me that 20 years ago he was invited by the fire and rescue service in Bangkok to give a talk on search and rescue. At that time he had been working in Japan when he was invited to come to Bangkok and while there for two weeks met his wife Noi .Although having to return to Japan to finish his contract as soon as that was done he hurried back to Thailand. At that time Noi was working at the Queen Sirikit Center in Bangkok but together they decided that they wanted to leave the capital and form a company elsewhere so began to look all over Thailand for the best place to start. They went to many places from Chiang Mai to.Samui until finally, after having been invited to a party in Pattaya decided to hire a car and have a drive around and upon doing so decided that this was the ideal place for them to start the company
Back in the UK way before this, when Tom was only 9 years old, his life was struck by a terrible tragedy . It occurred when he and his parents were on the M1 stuck in a layby where their car had broken down. They were waiting for the rescue services to arrive and Tom remembers even back then, feeling instinctively nervous about sitting in the car waiting for the callout crew. This sense of fear was heightened as he saw a cloud of dust in the rear view window and begged his parents to get out of the car. They would not but he was increasingly nervous, so opened the car door and ran up the embankment slope. Only seconds later the car was ploughed into by an articulated lorry ladened with factory cars, whose driver had fallen asleep at the wheel. It crashed into them killing Tom's mother and severely disabling his father as a result. I asked Tom what the authorities said would have happened to him if at such an early age he haven't had the presence of mind to escape from the car
“I would most certainly have died” says Tom
After this dreadful tragedy Tom's older brother took over a big part in looking after his younger sibling and Tom says he will always be grateful to his brother for making him what he is today and shouldering the responsibility of bringing him up. This shocking experience also meant that Tom’s education was severely disrupted and at the age of 14 he was really more interested in playing music than getting a good education. He played drums with a local band for a few years until they split and at the age of 19 found himself without any notable qualifications. So Tom became a carpenter and a joiner’s apprentice skills that would stand him in good stead later in life with his business in Pattaya.
However Tom’s grandfather’s profession had been that of a policeman and Tom’s mother had always been very proud of that. So in her memory he tried to enrol but was immediately rejected because of his lack of formal qualifications. Undeterred he went to night school to carry on with his education and by the age of 21 after a second attempt was accepted resulting in a career spanning 28 years. During which time he worked within various departments anti-terrorist, plainclothes as an undercover detective, bomb squad and also the training of dogs for narcotics and search and rescue.
After retiring from the police Tom joined a British search and rescue team, a commissioned group of specialists sent to help out in disastrous zones such as earthquake. mudslide,flood zones etc. Working in India Turkey and ‘
Mozambique amongst others his last mission with the team was in fact to help with the search and rescue after the Tsunami in Thailand. As part of an organisation from Bangkok, Tom’s team were transported on a naval vessel to Koh Phi Phil and Koh Lak to work with dogs for search and rescue on the islands.
I asked Tom more about this team and he told me that they were a non government group, recruited in the UK and sponsored by British Airways who covered the flights all over the world and and Purina dog food who sponsored all the the rescue dogs/ The two legged team members comprised many experts in their particular fields doctors engineers and nurses and Tom was invited to lead the team because of the experience he had gained during his years on the force. He told me that there was also a strict interview procedure for these members who might also be required to appear live on TV from devastated zones, be available at a moment’s notice to fly out as required and to keep their heads under extreme pressure. They trained in places like Brecon beacons in Wales and it was of course very exciting but often hazardous work. Extremely rewarding ? I ventured to guess and yes Tom remembers highlights such as when they were in Turkey after an earthquake. They managed to rescue a young boy who had spent 11 days buried alive and when he was pulled out from the rubble the cheers from the waiting crowd is something Tom will never forget - you can imagine ! He also said that he was very pleased to give something back with these missions and use all the skills that he had learnt during his time with the police to be part of such rescues.
So that was why he had been invited to Thailand because of his experience with such search and rescue and security matters. Originally the plan was for Tom and his wife Noi to form their own security business. However the company plans changed because at the same time they had commissioned someone to build a house for them but unfortunately this proved not to be to the exacting standards that Tom would have liked. His earlier days as a carpenter and joiner meant that he knew exactly the mistakes that were being made and so decided to take over the project himself.. Then a neighbour asked him to make his house and so through word of mouth the business grew and evolved from security to construction and it has continued to grow primarily through it's good reputation and attention to after care service
I first met Tom at a charity event he helped organise raising funds through a musical event Legends and of course music is still a great love of his right back from his teenage years. He had a plan some years back to bring bands over to Thailand with really great names like Jerry and the Pacemakers PJ Proby, Amen Corner and The Searches. He thought it would be a fantastic way to get these stars of yesteryear in front of their favourite 60s music loving crowds and although the venture was unfortunately scuppered with the red and yellow shirt problems at that time, Tom still keeps in touch with all these famous names and dreams one day of putting this event on here in Pattaya . .
Doubtless if he does It will be an event that will benefit charity both Tom and his wife Noi have been very generous with their time and money . Tom explains that he feels he has been a very lucky guy from that fateful day when he was just 9 years old to the life he loves here in Thailand and a company going from strength to strength .
Long may it continue Tom -we all look forward to seeing you at your next event!