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Welsh musician and IDLES frontman Joe Talbot leads 128 mile charity cycle ride

Joe Talbot (L) and Willie J Healey (R) in the Empire boxing gym

Joe Talbot, lead vocalist for British rock band Idles, along with fellow musician Willie J Healey will be cycling between two record studios, London to Bristol, to raise money for youth charity Empire Fighting Chance.

Their challenge will begin on the 27th August following an IDLES gig at London’s Banquet Records and finishing at Friendly Records on the evening of the 28th.

The two day cycle route will cover approximately 128 miles from city to city, and to help see them through the journey, Bristol-based bike manufacturer Temple Cycles have donated bikes to Joe and Willie.

Newport-born Talbot, who trains at the Empire Fighting Chance gym in Easton, has been the vocalist for British rock band Idles since their inception in 2009. Their debut album, Brutalism, was released in 2017 to critical acclaim, as was their second album Joy as an Act of Resistance in 2018. Their third album, Ultra Mono, was released on 25th September 2020 and the band will be heading off on a US tour later this year.

On taking on the challenge, Joe said: “It is with huge excitement and honour that Willie and I can start to give back to Empire Fighting Chance and support the work they do. I’ve trained in the EFC gym for a long time and it has been amazing to see how many young people they have helped and supported through boxing – you can really see the impact their work has, giving people a new focus and honestly changing lives.

“I’m sure this won’t be the last challenge we take on for Empire, but as first tries go it’s definitely ambitious! We just hope that we can raise as much money as possible and that taking on this cycle helps continue to change young lives.”

Originally from Carterton in Oxfordshire, Willie J Healey is a multi-genre musician, having written and performed songs ranging from garage-rock to Americana and psychedelia. His latest album release, ‘Twin Heavy’ has been met with widespread critical acclaim and he is set to be touring the UK this September and October.

Willie added: “I’m so proud to be supporting Empire Fighting Chance in their work because boxing was and is something that changed my life in so many positive ways. To have the opportunity to introduce young people, many of whom may struggle to find support and self-worth, to a community like that in the empire boxing club is huge. I made lifelong friends and learnt so much about myself through boxing, so it’s very important to me that we facilitate other young people to have that opportunity too.”

Martin Bisp, CEO and Co-Founder of Empire Fighting Chance (EFC), said: “Cycling from London to Bristol is no mean feat and we’re over the moon that Joe and Willie are taking on such a momentous challenge in aid of our charity. We wish them all the best in their journey, and we’ll be supporting them all the way!”

Empire Fighting Chance is a youth mental health charity combining non-contact boxing with personal development, therapy and careers support. Many of the young people they work with live in poverty and face challenges such as difficulty in or exclusion from school, involvement in gangs and crime, addiction, and chaotic home lives. In addition to these challenges, a large number face complex mental health issues, and have lived through trauma or abuse.

By using boxing to engage with young people, EFC Coaches are professionally trained to deliver personal mentoring or therapeutic sessions on a 1-1 basis. Their unique approach breaks down the barriers often associated with traditional forms of therapy for young people. This bespoke support enables young people to grow in confidence, improve access to education and employment, reduce their involvement in crime and enhance their wellbeing.

To donate to the challenge or to find out more, visit https://empirefightingchance.enthuse.com/pf/joetalbot.