Home   Canterbury   News   Article

Kevin Pietersen visits young Canterbury fan Ryan Belsey facing first Christmas without his dad

The Elf Service made its first dream come true when cricket star Kevin Pietersen gave a schoolboy a surprise he’ll never forget, after learning the young fan faces his first Christmas without his dad.

The England legend stunned cricket-mad Ryan Belsey after dropping by his class in Canterbury and having a knockabout with the 10-year-old.

He took time out of his hectic schedule to make the trip to St Stephen’s Junior School after the Elf Service told him how Ryan lost his dad Stephen in April this year, aged 42.

Scroll down for video

Kevin and Ryan Belsey
Kevin and Ryan Belsey

Our elves, who are helping to make Christmas dreams come true across Kent, were contacted by Stephen's grieving widow Rebecca, who told how Ryan idolised KP.

Stephen suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage at the city’s Marlowe Theatre, where he worked, devastating Ryan, Rebecca and six-year-old daughter Sadie.

“It’s just amazing. To see Ryan’s face when we surprised him in class this morning was special. It’s absolutely special” - Kevin Pietersen

Pietersen said: “Little Ryan lost his father a few of months ago. I’m a father myself so when it comes to kids, it’s got a special place in my heart.”

Pietersen said when he heard of Ryan’s loss he was more than happy to make the trip down from Surrey and pay him a surprise visit.

He said: "Sportsmen are very lucky.

"We’re put under immense pressure; we travel and we leave our families, and we do what we need to do to earn a living and to enjoy our jobs but this is one of the perks of the job.

"It’s just amazing. To see Ryan’s face when we surprised him in class this morning was special. It’s absolutely special."

After meeting Ryan and his classmates, Pietersen even joined the youngsters for an impromptu game of cricket in the school hall – and lost a wicket to Ryan in the process.
Pietersen is no stranger to the city.

“Mum was born here in Canterbury, so it’s got a spot in my heart,” he said. “It’s always nice to come back here. I always think of mum when I come back.”

He is also no stranger to the city’s St Lawrence Cricket Ground on Old Dover Road, the home of the Kent Cricket team.

Video: Cricketer Kevin Pieterson surprises Ryan at school. Reporter Graham Stothard

"It’s an interesting ground. Everybody knows it around the world because of the tree in the outfield. I’ve got some fond memories. I’ve got some runs here. I’ve also got out for nothing here too.

"So it’s pretty much like any ground round the world where you have some success, you’ve also had failures. But it’s a beautiful ground."

Pietersen also joined pupils for a special school assembly, where he took questions from the youngsters.

Asked whether he had met anyone famous, Pietersen asked for an example. “Bob Marley”, came one suggestion, much to the star’s amusement.

Kevin talking to Ryan at the school
Kevin talking to Ryan at the school

Pietersen did admit he’d met Roger Federer, who was “a nice chap”, and knew One Direction’s Harry Stiles.

He also disclosed he would have loved to have been a jet pilot if he hadn’t made it as a cricketer.

Asked what it took to be as successful as he was, Pietersen said: “You have to be motivated and to know that there’s no substitute for hard work.”

He told the schoolchildren that he only bore the fruits of his labour when he was older. “I was rubbish until I was 17, seriously,” he said. “You will always battle with something in life. It’s how you deal with that that counts.”

Kevin Pietersen during a visit to a school in Canterbury last year. Picture: Gary Browne
Kevin Pietersen during a visit to a school in Canterbury last year. Picture: Gary Browne

As a final word, Pietersen told the children of St Stephen’s School to "Look after Ryan. He’s a good bloke."

Ryan said afterwards: "That was unbelievable. It was an amazing moment in my life. I was never expecting that to happen.”

His mother Rebecca said: "My husband was at work when he passed away in April. With it coming up to Christmas, Ryan and his sister Sadie are finding it hard.

"I was gobsmacked when Kevin agreed to come down. It means the world to Ryan, meeting Kevin. He’s been to two England games and both times Kevin was injured."

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More