Brave cancer fighter Rossi, 6, meets his hero Bruce Dickinson

Rossi in his Eddie outfit in front of the Download main stage during Iron Maiden's set
Rossi in his Eddie outfit in front of the Download main stage during Iron Maiden's set (Image credit: Ross Silcocks)

A six-year-old boy with cancer had the time of his life when he met his hero Bruce Dickinson at Download festival.

Rossi Starbrook – who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) when he was just four – is a heavy metal fan thanks to his rock-loving parents Leanne and Richard.

And when the Nottinghamshire youngster heard that his favourite band were headlining Download 2016, he set about recording himself singing the band’s classic Aces High and posting it on YouTube.

The video went viral and led to Download chief Andy Copping getting in touch with the Starbrook family. Before little Rossi knew it, he was meeting the Maiden frontman – who had his own battle with cancer – backstage at Donington.

And he watched the band’s set while dressed up as a mini version of Iron Maiden’s mascot Eddie.

Leanne, 45, tells TeamRock: “A guy who used to work security for Maiden saw Rossi’s video and it turned out he also knew Andy Copping. So we were put in touch and Andy was just amazing.

“It was Rossi’s first time seeing Maiden live so it was a truly unforgettable experience for him. He is the chattiest little boy, but he clammed up when he met Bruce!

“But Bruce was so lovely and chatted with Rossi. To see my little man so happy was just wonderful. I can’t ever do enough to thank everyone who made this happen.

“Rossi said to me, ‘This is the best day ever. Download is the most awesome place.’”

As she came to terms with Rossi’s diagnosis, Leanne started a charity called Team Rossi, which is dedicated to providing fun days out for children with cancer.

She says: “The charity came about entirely because of Rossi. He wanted to set it up to help other people.”

Rossi’s prognosis is not clear yet, so the family say they are making the most of every day with him.

“We have been given an ‘end date’ for treatment of May 20 next year,” Leanne says. “That is the last day they will give him his treatment and then they will have to do tests to see how he is doing.

“We really won’t know much more until next May. But he’s a fighter all right.”

Team Rossi is working on hosting its own mini Download festival, with top tribute band Hi-On Maiden set to perform. See the charity’s website for details of upcoming fundraisers and information on how to donate to the cause.

Rossi meets Bruce Dickinson backstage at Download 2016

Rossi meets Bruce Dickinson backstage at Download 2016

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Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.