APRIL 29 should have been an annual highlight in the calendar but for the family of Ryan Passey who was stabbed to death in a Stourbridge nightspot it's now a painful reminder of the birthdays he will never celebrate.

It's been nearly four years since the popular footballer, who ran a successful window cleaning business, lost his life after he was fatally wounded with a single blow to the chest in the crowded Ryemarket bar on August 6, 2017.

But the pain of losing him never goes away for his dad Adrian, mum Gillian, step-dad Phil and Ryan's many friends.

Determined to keep his memory alive, however, they are planning a charity fundraising walk to remember Ryan and to help raise funds for their continuing fight for justice.

Around 25 of Ryan's friends and his dad Adrian will be taking on a 28-mile challenge in the Peak District National Park on Saturday May 1.

Family friend Jason Connon, who will be among those taking part, said: "The challenge will see Ryan's friends trek 28 miles in memory of Ryan and to mark what would be his 28th birthday.

"It doesn't get any easier, it's always a difficult time of year for Ryan's parents but the support and love shown from the community is what keeps them going."

The group will have to adhere to strict Covid-19 rules, walking in maximum groups of six, but they are chuffed to be able to go ahead with the challenge this Saturday (May 1) as all planned get togethers and memorial/fundraising events had to be cancelled last year to due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Jason added: ""We've always done something from the first year when we went for Ryan's 25th (heavenly) birthday to Dublin. Last year we couldn't do anything because of Covid. We're just pleased to be able to do something this year.

"We will be raising money for the Justice For Ryan campaign, to help towards Ryan’s family’s ongoing legal and campaign costs and supporting them in their fight to achieve justice for Ryan."

Meanwhile, the Justice For Ryan campaign are awaiting a date for the first hearing of a civil case they have launched against Kobe Murray, from Dudley, who was acquitted of all charges relating to Ryan's death after pleading self defence during a murder trial at Birmingham crown court in 2018.

Ryan's supporters have always maintained the verdict was 'perverse' and they have been campaigning for a law change ever since to give families affected by serious crimes the chance to appeal a not guilty verdict in cases where it appears contrary to evidence presented in court.

Anyone wishing to make a donation or sponsor the team on their fundraising trek can do so online at https://gofund.me/1abc9ebd (or search Peak District Challenge for Ryan's 28th Birthday on the Go Fund Me website).