Thursday 9th July 2020
Based on charity bike rides all round the world from places as far afield as India, Morocco, and Vietnam, a Golf Day, sports Legend dinners at the Sanctum Soho, rock memorabilia auctions and curry nights with well-known heavy metal legends, the Truants are always looking for new ideas to raise vital funds for charity.
In 2013 Smallwood and (then) Metal Hammer Editor-in-Chief Alexander Milas got together to add the Heavy Metal Truants’ to the Truants family, this being based around an arduous 180 mile bike ride from London to Download Festival at Castle Donington in early June every year.
Sadly with music events cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Heavy Metal Truants Eighth annual ride and the money it was due to raise, was facing cancellation. But the Heavy Metal Truants sprang into action launching a virtual challenge which called on participants to undertake the same mileage on their own. The Eighth of Spades Ride (named after Ace of Spades by Motorhead, an album celebrating its 40th anniversary this year) was born, and in keeping with its heavy metal ethos, the initial fundraising target was set at £66,666.
The success of this challenge exceeded all expectations with over 450 walkers, runners and cyclists signing from over 35 countries around the world joining, including Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, China, Japan, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and of course from across Europe and the UK.
The challenge has raised £185,000 - nearly tripling the initial target - a sum which will be split equally between the four charities, almost tripling the original target ( the other charities being Nordoff Robbins, ChildLine and Save the Children). One participant decided to go the extra distance by walking 500 miles and the Truants arranged a supportive message from the Proclaimers to give him a boost.
The HM Truants are already thinking about next year and building on the success of the virtual ride, even if the physical ride takes place. And the Truants are planning a major ride in Argentina/Uruguay for late 2021.
Smallwood adds: "The way so many important Children’s Charities are suffering currently led us to taking our ride online and global, any funding is just so valuable right now. It was all hands on deck to get the virtual ride together, led brilliantly by Alex Milas and Helen Curl. People all over the world have come together to help young people, which is wonderful. And we’ve been able to spread the word far and wide about the amazing work of Teenage Cancer Trust’s frontline staff and of course the other Charities we are supporting.
"We’re delighted to support this important charity and it’s an honour to receive this award. There’s a big teenage metal community and this is an ideal way to support them. Something like this really brings people across the rock and metal community together for a great cause."
"We’re utterly thrilled by the response we’ve had," says Milas. "It’s proof positive of the power of community, and that no matter how hard times get the good will of good people never sways, and it’s positive affirmation that the rock and metal community truly is a force like no other. This experience has broadened our horizons, and we’re already planning our next steps."