FRIENDS and family of Ryan Passey are set to mark what would been the popular footballer’s 25th birthday this weekend.

Ryan, aged 24, of Quarry Bank, was killed when he was stabbed through the heart in the former Chicago’s nightspot in Stourbridge last August.

The club was forced to close around two months ago in the wake of bad press after the tragedy but those close to the former Wren’s Nest FC centre midfielder have been left reeling since Dudley teenager Kobe Murray, who admitted stabbing Ryan, walked free after a jury at Birmingham Crown Court decided he was not guilty of murder or manslaughter.

Family friend Jason Connon, who started the Respect for Ryan Campaign on Facebook, has been heading up a fight for justice for Ryan and to ensure the much-loved young entrepreneur, who had set up his own window cleaning business, is never forgotten.

Since the shock court verdict in February - he and Ryan’s relatives have been speaking to police, the CPS, lawyers and MPs about how they may be able to overturn what’s been called a ‘perverse verdict’.

They have also had a bench installed in the grounds of St James’s Church, Wollaston, where Ryan’s funeral was held in September.

And on Sunday April 29 they are planning to mark what would have been Ryan’s 25th birthday.

A service will be held at St James’s Church in Bridgnorth Road at 2.30pm, followed by a get together at The Raven, Caledonia, from around 4pm which will feature live music.

Jason said: “It’ll be a celebration of Ryan’s life and memories. Ada, Ryan’s dad, wants it to be upbeat.”

Friends and family also took a trip to Dublin last weekend to kick-start their tribute to Ryan.

Jason told the News: “Thirty plus of us went out to Dublin to start his birthday celebrations. That was one place he always wanted to go. It was a great weekend, we had a fantastic time."