Former St Albans pupil dies during round-world trip

PUBLISHED: 15:12 25 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:41 06 May 2010

Ryan Harrison in Vancouver, Canada

Ryan Harrison in Vancouver, Canada

A MOTHER and father have paid tribute to their teenage son after he died while living his dream of travelling the world. Former Nicholas Breakspear pupil Ryan Harrison, 18, died in his sleep during the early hours of October 25 in Seattle, USA, just two

A MOTHER and father have paid tribute to their teenage son after he died while "living his dream" of travelling the world.

Former Nicholas Breakspear pupil Ryan Harrison, 18, died in his sleep during the early hours of October 25 in Seattle, USA, just two weeks into a six-month trip across the globe.

His cause of death has been given as eosinophilic myocarditis, a natural cause brought about by a viral infection that inflames the heart muscle and can lead to it failing.

This week his parents, Ian and Teresa, who live in Potters Bar, spoke of their loss and called for more awareness about heart risk in young people.

Teresa said: "At least he got to do his travelling,"

"One of the last things he said to me when he was out there was 'Mum, I'm living the dream'."

Ian described Ryan as the "perfect kid" and said: "He was my son and my best mate. He never really caused us any trouble. He had time for everyone."

His funeral on November 9, at Our Lady and St Vincent Church in Mutton Lane, was attended by around 600 people and not everyone could fit into the church.

Ian said: "It gives an indication of how well-known and well-loved he was by everybody."

Ryan, who is also survived by older sister Sammy-Jo, was a keen DJ and played football for Potters Bar United (PBU) and Nicholas Breakspear's Old Boys team.

His former headmaster, Phil Jakszta, said the school was deeply shocked by his death and that he had remained very much in touch with them through the Old Boys football team since completing his education there two years ago.

He continued: "Ryan was a lovely guy who we all thought the world of and his cheery personality would brighten any day. The last time I saw Ryan was a summers evening just after he had finished training and we were chatting about old friends and old times.

"He looked so well and so happy it is unbelievable that we won't be seeing him again. I will keep the memory of that summers evening forever as that is exactly how he was day by day as a student here at Nicholas Breakspear School."

Deputy chairman of PBU, Dave Lennon, said: "He made a big impact on all who knew him and his teammates at Potters Bar Utd and the parents involved will never forget Ryan."

It is estimated 12 people under 35 die every week due to sudden cardiac death.

Both Ian and Teresa want to highlight the work of charity Cardiac Risk in the Young, in the hope that others might be able to detect heart problems before it's too late.

Visit www.c-r-y.org.uk for more information.

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