So then, how did this all begin?
It’s said that mighty oaks grow from small acorns. It should also be said that’s especially true of acorns that have been soaked in beer. It feels like yesterday. Back in 2012, Iron Maiden manager, Rod Smallwood, invited me on one of his now infamous charity cycle rides, the Truants. This particular one was through the the foothills of the Atlas Mountains out in Morocco in some truly blistering heat. It was hard, but it was also genuinely one of the best, most fulfilling experiences of my life. It had been years since I’d cycled – life and the demands of work had gotten in the way and I doubted whether I could finish, but like a lot of people out there for the first time I surprised myself, and my face ached from all the grinning. What I didn’t know was that it was about to get a million times better. It was early evening in Marrakech, and the heat was just about bearable for the first time. Rod cracks over a beer, turns to me, and says…
“How are you planning on getting up to Donington this year?”
That moment saw the birth of the Heavy Metal Truants, and to say it’s been a remarkable journey is an understatement. Just like our mascot, created by Matt Dixon out of the goodness of the heart, our little cycle ride has evolved rather significantly over the last five years. The first four rides have seen dozens upon dozens of cyclists have come together to raise money for three fantastic charities that do truly immense work to improve the lives of children and young people: Nordoff Robbins, Teenage Cancer Trust, and Childline. Add in friends and family who’ve supported them, and the great and good of the music industry who have supported us, and you haven’t just got a proposition that has raised over £300,000 to date, but an organisation that’s the very essence of what heavy metal is all about. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fan, an agent, a manager, a promoter, a publicist, a record label, a media type or an artist: hills and sweat are a great equaliser, and the only thing that matters is that you’re out there with us.