Comic Russell Howard: ‘Privilege to play in Kiyan’s memory to fight knife crime’
Comedian Russell Howard has hit out at London’s knife crime “epidemic” as he teams up with the father of a murdered footballer to mark the anniversary of his death.
Howard, 43, will play in a champion’s cup charity match with England legends Harry and Jamie Redknapp and goalkeeper David James at Queens Park Rangers’ stadium on Saturday.
Former TOWIE star Mark Wright, singer James Bay, actor David Harewood, chat show host Mo Gilligan and Leyton Orient star Charlotte Lynch are also taking part to raise funds for the Kiyan Prince Foundation.
Kiyan, 16, who played for QPR’s youth team, was stabbed trying to break up a fight outside his school in Edgware, north London on May 18, 2006.
Howard told the Standard that blade crime was “an epidemic that isn’t going to go away quickly”, adding: “We’ve got a lot of children in London who haven’t had a childhood.
“Some as young as nine are recruited into gangs and being offered an income. Instead of pretending to be soldiers, they are actual foot soldiers.
“I can’t imagine the pressure. When me and my brother were nine, we Sellotaped bits of our bodies. You should be allowed to be silly and have fun.”
He said: “It’s an absolute privilege to play this match in the stadium where Kiyan might have been a legend. It’s so special and feels like the right thing to do.”
Amid a surge in youth violence, Renell Charles, 16, was fatally stabbed with a machete in front of fellow pupils outside Kelmscott School in Walthamstow on May 5.
Kiyan’s father, Dr Mark Prince OBE, 54, said money raised from the match would create an academy to change young lives.
He added children in the capital are getting killed “for no valid reason”, saying: “Before Kiyan’s death, I never imagined I would be the next sobbing parent breaking down on television. I thought, ‘How horrific to be in their shoes’ and never thinking it was going to me.
“If you’ve got children, brothers or sisters, nieces and nephews, this is everyone’s problem. We can all play a small part to save lives.”
Ex-West Ham footballer Anton Ferdinand, singer-songwriter Chelcee Grimes, former Spurs Ladies star Shakira Waithe, YouTuber Yung Filly and retired striker Jay Bothroyd will also take to the pitch.
For tickets, go to thekpf.com.