Ep. 31: Bodyguard for the World's EliteIn this episode of The Silvercore Podcast, Travis speaks with Silvercore instructor, Darren Maughan, to discuss what it takes to work as a bodyguard for some of the world’s most elite. Darren recounts how he got into the world of executive protection, as well as some fantastic stories during his time working with Oprah Winfrey and the Australian National Cricket Team.
Travis Bader: [00:00:00] I’m Travis Bader and this is The Silvercore Podcast. Join me as I discuss matters related to hunting, fishing, and outdoor pursuits with the people in businesses that comprise of the community. If you’re new to Silvercore, be sure to check out our website, www.Silvercore.ca Where you can learn more about courses, services, and products.
[00:00:29] We offer as well as how you can join The Silvercore Club, which includes 10 million in North America wide liability insurance, to make sure you are properly covered during your outdoor adventures.
[00:00:43] By popular request, I’m speaking with Silvercore instructor, Darren Maughan, to discuss what it takes to work as a bodyguard for some of the world’s most elite.
[00:00:52] Darren recounts how he got into the world of executive protection, as well as some fantastic stories during his time working with Oprah Winfrey and the Australian National Cricket Team.
[00:01:02] All right. Based on feedback that we received from the previous podcast we did with Darren Maughan, we’re sitting down again to talk about some of the things that we kind of alluded to at the beginning, which was the executive protection work and your time shooting IPSC. Darren, thank you very much for coming back to The Silvercore Podcast, I’m glad I didn’t scare you away on the last one.
Darren Maughan: [00:01:22] Thanks Travis, it’s always good to be here.
Travis Bader: [00:01:24] You got very heavy into executive protection and close protection security work and have been doing that for quite a number of years. Run your own company doing that and working for other companies. How did you get into that?
Darren Maughan: [00:01:38] Oh, good question Travis. You know, being, living in Zimbabwe at the time, there was a need for that. And there was a need for that in South Africa, which was a bigger market. And it was something that I didn’t intend to do, you know? I actually went to agriculture college, so.
Travis Bader: [00:01:54] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:01:54] It wasn’t something that I had as my bucket list, but something that made this happen was I got into, first of all, I got into the sport of IPSC.
Travis Bader: [00:02:04] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:02:04] You know what IPSC is, the practical pistol shooting. It was just as the world was starting to really take notice of it and, and the world shoots were taking off. We actually had a, a, a strange phenomenon when I just started shooting; that Zimbabwe at the time wouldn’t attend the world shoot because South Africa was still allowed to go.
Travis Bader: [00:02:24] Ah.
Darren Maughan: [00:02:25] But when that changed in 1990, 1999, I was selected to go and represent Zimbabwe in Australia. And again I was, in those days, you need a single stack 45, you know.
Travis Bader: [00:02:39] Yeah.
[00:02:39] Darren Maughan: [00:02:39] Manage to squeeze eight rounds into the magazine after a little bit of tinkering and that’s what we shot with. And it was awesome, you know, and we met such legends, even in those days as Rob Leatham and the boys.
Travis Bader: [00:02:49] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:02:50] And I loved it and I just seemed they have an aptitude to shoot, it just seemed to come natural to me, I don’t know why, I didn’t come from a shooting family. I did my hunting and that and. So with that, I decided like, you know, I’ll carry on doing the sport, this is pretty good. And over the next five years, I actually attended another, two world shoots a one in the Philippines, one in South Africa.
[00:03:15] And in fact, I think I may have got that wrong, I think Philippines were 1999. Anyway, I’ll I’ll correct myself later.
Travis Bader: [00:03:22] Yeah, no problem.
Darren Maughan: [00:03:23] Anyhow, I went to three world shoots and I did really well. I was Zimbabwe champion five years for my sins.
Travis Bader: [00:03:28] Wow.
Darren Maughan: [00:03:29] Made me the captain. I don’t know why, you know this crazy guy from the farm.
Travis Bader: [00:03:32] Good for you.
Darren Maughan: [00:03:32] It was all fun and enjoyable. And I always had the opportunity to help train other people and, and start training people who hadn’t really shot handguns before, had been in the military but as most people know in the military, you shoot, you don’t shoot handguns that much, right.
Travis Bader: [00:03:48] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:03:48] And especially in our military. So they would come out and that’s, asked me to start teaching them how to shoot and it was fun. I love teaching, I love people, I love imparting knowledge. It’s one of my passions in life.
Travis Bader: [00:03:59] You’re great at it.
Darren Maughan: [00:03:59] Well, I hope so, I try. And yeah through that, I met people who would say, well, listen, you know, why don’t you do some close protection work? In those days it was still called body guarding. I went well, I don’t really know too much about it. I, I, I can handle myself. I can, you know, I’ve been in some tough situations. I’ve been in some very serious situations that we’ve got ourselves out of.
[00:04:23] And they said, well, listen, we know these guys, we know these guys, why aren’t you going to do a course? And I ended up going to South Africa and doing a couple of courses down there because we had really nothing in Zimbabwe to do that. A bodyguard, in those days was someone who just came out of the military and said, okay, you’ll do and he, he looked mean.
Travis Bader: [00:04:38] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:04:39] And I quickly picked up that to do a professional body guarding course you had to take it more than just knowing how to defend yourself and you know, how to shoot a firearm correctly. There were many other things that were involved in it. So when I started, I started picking apart what would be best and a lot of it was client confidentiality.
Travis Bader: [00:05:02] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:05:03] Including client confidentiality, in that day, they trusted you, there was trust in you and also there was a bit, it was a bit involved in client, client comfort. They wanted to know, they wanted to feel special. They were paying a lot of money. And I think this went back to my professional hunters days, right.
[00:05:20] I sort of putting the two and two together and so one of the things I started doing is after I’d done all these courses and passed the course I said, I think I can integrate this into my own training course here and start developing it. And so that’s what we started doing. And then we invited instructors up to us to impart their knowledge on us and.
Travis Bader: [00:05:39] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:05:39] And integrated that and what we found out, now, this is quite interesting. You alluded, right at the beginning of the first podcast that I’d done some security work for, for instance, the Australian Cricket Team.
Travis Bader: [00:05:49] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:05:50] Now, I ended up there as a security manager for five years, but how I originally got that, they were coming to South Africa to come and play the world cup.
Travis Bader: [00:05:59] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:05:59] There was a whole bunch there. And the South African company that we’re employing the close protection for the teams decided they didn’t want a South African looking after the biggest rivals, cause South Africa thought that we’ve got to win that war.
Travis Bader: [00:06:15] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:06:16] So they reached out to me being Zimbabwe and I’d worked with them before, they said, would you come down and do the Australian team? I went fine and it ended up getting, got on so well with the guys. We had it, we, this is, this is a great little story, sorry. Is it all little antidote on the side here.
Travis Bader: [00:06:32] I love it.
Darren Maughan: [00:06:32] Yeah. Well, during the world cup, there were a couple of matches that were shared up for the, in Zimbabwe, but Zimbabwe were going through that political turmoil. Mugabi was in the news for everyone and some of the teams decided not to go. England for one, forfeited their match, that they had to play in Zimbabwe rather not go up there. And it was that made international headlines.
Travis Bader: [00:06:55] Yeah.
Darren Maughan: [00:06:55] Well, the Australians said, well, we’ll do we go? And they had this big, I know you’re talking about all the major executives, this is a, this is the national team and they all like the best, one of the best teams in the world. And they had to go up to my hometown, which was in the South of Zimbabwe, we called Bulawayo.
[00:07:12] So the manager said, Darren, I got to come talk to you. Now, the managers for the cricket team is like God right. He’s the guy that runs the place.
Travis Bader: [00:07:18] Yeah.
Darren Maughan: [00:07:18] I said, yes, He says, listen, we think we should go, but we don’t know. I want, would you be prepared to speak to the entire Australian team and tell them your thoughts? I went fair enough.
Travis Bader: [00:07:31] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:07:31] And I could speak from the heart because my wife was still there, my kids were there, my wife was still pregnant at the time.
Travis Bader: [00:07:37] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:07:37] In Bulawayo and I said, because it’s not the security situation we’ve got to worry about it. It’s your political ideas whether you want to, or don’t want to go. The guy said, well, we don’t want to shake Mugabi’s hand, and well, I don’t know if he’ll even be there.
[00:07:49] But I’m just going to give you the briefing on the security side. And it worked out well, the guys after the talk it was a good 15 minutes I was standing in front of this team that really I just met. And they went, you know what? We’ll go, we’ll go on your advise, we got to hire, we got to, we’re going to, yeah, we got to get our own airplane and we’re going to go up there, charter it so we can fly out and we’re going to stay one night instead of two.
[00:08:10] And then we’re coming back and that’ll be all sort of, and they went up there and they played Zimbabwe in Bulawayo, it was magnificent. The Zimbabwian’s were just ecstatic that they had this Australian team. I’m talking about the normal man in the street and that they had this opportunity to see Australia play in, in Zimbabwe. So that was fantastic.
Travis Bader: [00:08:28] That’s cool.
Darren Maughan: [00:08:28] Firsttime. So that sort of just led me into the idea that you’ve got to be able to relate to the teams at the time. In fact, that time, that night they stayed there, they all came to my house for a barbecue, we called it aBri.My poor wife didn’t know what to hit her. She had the whole Australian team, the management and the Australian embassy and convergent in our little house in the suburbs.
Travis Bader: [00:08:51] You didn’t tell her ahead of time?
Darren Maughan: [00:08:51] Oh I told her, look, you know, I can’t tell you too much, but we’re going to have a whole bunch of people. But I couldn’t tell any of my best friends except two of them. And I said, listen, I want you guys to come to my house tonight for a, you know, we call it a Bri. They’re why? I can’t tell you, just come.
[00:09:05] And when they arrived there, their eyes were just like saucers like the whole Australian team. Anyway so I, going back to what I said, I, I realized that be, be able to connect to the people that you’re looking after, the people that you are protecting, is an important thing. And so what I did is I started training my guys more in that.
[00:09:25] Well, not more as an extra, there’s an you’ve better know your client’s comfort. So for instance, I’ll give you a small example. The client’s going to get into his vehicle that morning, you better make sure that his newspaper that he reads is folded up and on his seat next to him. The water that he drinks is in, in the, in the right place for him to drink the air conditioner set at the right temperature, you know, the radio station, if need be, or the music they listen to you.
[00:09:47] And the guys say, really, and this worked out so well. So you talked about Oprah and I can, I can talk now because it’s been so long ago, but that’s how I actually got that job as well. What actually happened is another company in South Africa said, look, we’ve got this issue here.
[00:10:03] One, we need guys that can speak good English. I’m like, what do you mean? Well, in South Africa you have the Afrikaners as well that don’t speak, you battle sometimes to understand my accent. Well, if you try an Afrikaans accent.
Travis Bader: [00:10:17] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:10:17] I mean, I love the guys, but so they said, well okay, we want you to come down there, but there was also this issue. And I don’t know if I can mention this, but this is the truth of the story is that, we don’t have the right racial breakdown of our security teams down there, they’re all white. And I went well, that’s crazy, I’ve got a whole bunch of guys here that work with me and we trained together. Can you bring them down? Said yeah I can bring them down.
[00:10:41] So not only did I go down, about another five, six guys or my guys down to be part of the team. For my sins, I was designated as the CPO one to Stedman Graham. That was Oprah’s long term partner, still is, a fantastic guy, absolutely fantastic. He’s a motivational speaker, I didn’t know that and I love, I love that, I love that sort of stuff.
Travis Bader: [00:11:03] Yeah.
Darren Maughan: [00:11:03] Obviously you can see that, right?
Travis Bader: [00:11:04] Yeah, yeah.
Darren Maughan: [00:11:04] And we got on really, really well and. We’ll do another podcast, once, I’ll tell you a story about what happened during our Christmas kindness whena whole tent blue down on us.
Travis Bader: [00:11:16] I love it.
Darren Maughan: [00:11:16] Yeah, that was a big one. So that’s really how I got into close protection is that, it wasn’t something that I had inspired to when I, you know, left college or anything like that. It’s something that came to me and, but it’s also, I think the realization that it’s not only that you have to protect your principal, as you call them.
Travis Bader: [00:11:35] Mhmm.
Darren Maughan: [00:11:36] But you have to look after him and sometimes you even have to baby him, but you have to make him feel good, but you know, put them in a, in a environment that is best suited for the protection of, of him, or her. And make sure that, you can control that, and sometimes there are difficulties. Sometimes you have clients that have are very difficult and they’ll push the envelope and they won’t listen to you and there’s always that trade off of well listen, how much, do you listen to me to, for me to be able to protect you that doesn’t impinge on your freedom as such.
Travis Bader: [00:12:10] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:12:10] So there’s a lot of difficulties in that and that still exist today.
Travis Bader: [00:12:15] That’s gotta be a difficult one to juggle too. I mean, they want to be out there, especially the celebrities, the personalities. And your whole job is just to tuck them away, keep them safe.
Darren Maughan: [00:12:25] It’s very difficult. It can be. I mean, sometimes you have awesome clients. They’ll listen to you because they, they know that there’s a threat to end that they, they want you to look off them. But at the same time, you’re giving them enough space to be a human being. You know, they’re not being a prisoner and the you, you make those decisions. But sometimes they don’t and then you just have to roll with it because at the end of the day, they’re paying you.
[00:12:47] And if you have to walk away from a well paid job because it’s, the client, won’t listen to you. That’s being professional. I’m sorry, you know, we’ve talked about this, you’re not listening to me. I can’t protect you under the circumstances, I can’t do my job. Because the last thing you want to happen as a close protection officer, is your client get hurt.
Travis Bader: [00:13:07] How often does that happen? Have you had to walk away? Has that happened to you?
Darren Maughan: [00:13:11] It’s happened once or twice. Not often. We’ve, we’ve normally been able to resolve issues. That’s not to say that there hasn’t been a lot of times where we’ve had to resolve that issue. You have to actually sit down and talk it through.
Travis Bader: [00:13:22] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:13:22] You know, you gotta understand a lot of the clients that we have are either high value, or have celebrity status. Here’s a favourite one; celebrity says, stop that person taking a picture of me. I’m like, I can’t, that’s totally legal, and everyone has a cell phone, so please don’t do anything stupid in public cause that’s really, what’s going to happen.
[00:13:44] So you have to talk to them about those sort of things. But by and large, I’ve been very fortunate because I think I normally want to connect and that doesn’t mean it always happens. But you know, it’s something that I think is, is missing, the large part in the training of close protection. You’ve got to some of these close protection courses, and there’s some really good ones around the world. But the emphasis is on fitness, on firearms training, on self-defence training, driving skills, which are all great.
Travis Bader: [00:14:13] Sure.
Darren Maughan: [00:14:14] But don’t forget that real personal part.
Travis Bader: [00:14:17] Well, that’s all the sizzle, right. And that’s, that consists of a very small portion of the actual job. It sounds like the actual job is basically good people skills.
Darren Maughan: [00:14:26] Yeah. Well, look, let’s put it this way. So you’ll spend at the range and you’ll go and spend a couple hours every week training, making sure your skill set is still the same, where it’s meant to be. I’m talking about a country that you are authorized to carry a firearm and you need to carry.
Travis Bader: [00:14:41] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:14:41] But let’s just say you do that, well how often are you actually, during the time that you work going to draw your firearm, nevermind fire it.
Travis Bader: [00:14:49] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:14:50] And the possibility is probably much less than 1%. So, you know, concentrate on everything else, keep your skill set up, make sure that you’re ready for that. Because a lot of the times you are doing absolutely nothing. And that’s the hard part, to keep your concentration. I’ve heard of some of the courses recently, and I think it’s really good.
[00:15:09] You just get there, four of you in the room, they, they, they, they tape of a box around you, square metre and they say alright, stand there and wait until further instructions. Three hours later, they still standing there because a lot of the time, as a close protection officer, that is all you’re doing.
Travis Bader: [00:15:28] Really?
Darren Maughan: [00:15:28] Is standing. You know, there’s a, there’s a saying in the close protection world, holes in walls, you know, you, you you’re setting in the hotel in the holes and. you know, up against a wall. It’s, it’s, it’s a lot of patience, but keeping your concentration. Cause that’s when it happens right. After three hours of standing, you know, you start, mind starts wandering, you start.
[00:15:50] Travis Bader: [00:15:50] Totally.
Darren Maughan: [00:15:51] Yeah. And, and, and that’s when it happens. So there’s some really good courses around and, you know, it’s been good for me. I haven’t just done one on one, you know, I’ve had that opportunity, the fortunate opportunity of, of working with, as I said, the Australian Cricket Team, I also work with English Cricket Team and New Zealand. And I traveled the world. I’ve been all over with these, with these various people and look, there’s some really glamorous parts about it, don’t get me wrong.
Travis Bader: [00:16:17] Sure.
Darren Maughan: [00:16:17] It’s not just the three hours standing, doing nothing, but you get to fly private jets. You know, you drive them, the latest Mercedes, you know, the Maybeck’s you get. And, and what I found, for me, was I got to work with the most interesting people, because a lot of clients will come to an area and they’ll bring their own personal close protection that they’ve had forever that that’s their guy. But they need three or four or five guys on the ground to work with their team.
Travis Bader: [00:16:43] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:16:43] And we’ve done that before. And you meet the most interesting guys, guys that have had careers that I’ve, I mean, I can just, in awe of sometimes, I’m like, Whoa, you know, did you guys really do that? I mean, are you not telling me the story, but you meet these, these incredible individuals. And that’s what I really love about it.
Travis Bader: [00:17:01] Well, I guess it’s got to take its toll on your personal life, it’s gotta take its toll always, essentially shadowing somebody, some other big personality and their, their big life, and trying to slice out time for yourself in there as well.
Darren Maughan: [00:17:17] It does. It does. And I mean, I’ve been doing it for a long time now, you know, I’m in my fifties.
Travis Bader: [00:17:22] Mhmm.
Darren Maughan: [00:17:22] Late fifties, almost, not quite, but close. So I’ve been doing this probably for 30 years, on and off, and it does take a toll if you will let it as well. You know, there’s sometimes you can mitigate it. There should always be downtime.
[00:17:36] So, you know, the last 10 years when I actually ran the teams, instead of me being on the ground all the time, I would make sure that everyone had the down time okay. To decompress because it is a very high stress job, but as you could decompress and that you can, get back to your job the next day or your next shift, you know, clear headed and, and ready to work.
[00:17:59] So there are those things, but also you gotta, you gotta look at your family time as well. I mean, for a family man, it’s hard because in the beginning when I was traveling a lot, my wife and kids would stay at home. That’s one of the reasons I actually moved to Canada, but that’s another story, but you know, I’m, I’m blessed that I have wife that was very understanding and very strong, you know, when I’m not there, she can do just about anything.
[00:18:22] So, but it does, it can take a toll on you. And I think where I’m now on my waiting side of the career, I would say that any close protection officer worth his salt just will know his limitations and limitations come with age. They come with, you know with anything, with time.
Travis Bader: [00:18:40] Mhmm.
Darren Maughan: [00:18:40] You’ve gotta be able to realize that and then work in cause you don’t want to weaken the team. In any way, and you don’t want to put your principal client in danger in any way, just because you want to work that extra couple of years.
Travis Bader: [00:18:52] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:18:53] It’s a, it’s a good thing to know.
Travis Bader: [00:18:55] Just park the ego.
Darren Maughan: [00:18:56] Exactly.
Travis Bader: [00:18:57] Well, one of the things, and I’ve known you for many years, and I’ve always admired about you, is your positive outlook. Now you’re talking about stress and decompressing, and I know there’s been lots of, everyone’s got stress. I know you’ve had many challenges in your life. What kind of tips and tricks would you give? How do you keep yourself so positive?
Darren Maughan: [00:19:19] Well, it’s nice that you just say that Travis, I don’t always think like that, but I am. I think what it is, is that you can always look at the negative and you can always look at the positive.
Travis Bader: [00:19:28] Mhmm.
Darren Maughan: [00:19:29] You’re right. I’ve gone through some tremendously challenging times in my life. Times that I would think, well, you know what happened? I’ll give you the one challenge; when we arrived in Canada in 2005, there was myself, my wife, my two little girls and a baby. Between us, we had nine bags and $15,000.
Travis Bader: [00:19:50] Wow.
Darren Maughan: [00:19:51] That was it. And in 2005 and that $15,000 ran out really quick.
Travis Bader: [00:19:55] Yes.
Darren Maughan: [00:19:55] I’ve just been truly blessed, number one, to be in Canada. I’m so grateful in every way you can imagine for being in this wonderful country and what has had to offer us and help us and assist us. And we thrived, you know, we’ve we, we settled in here, we assimilated immediately.
Travis Bader: [00:20:12] Mhmm.
Darren Maughan: [00:20:13] I say assimilated, three, three and a half years in Prince George coming out of Africa. We have learned how to winterize in Canada real quick.
Travis Bader: [00:20:21] Yeah.
Darren Maughan: [00:20:22] Understand where propane is and how to light a stove to keep warm. But I always look at life as an adventure as well, and adventures are never always going to be easy and sometimes the harder the venture, the more satisfying they are right. So I look at that. I also, there’s an understanding, and I tell my girls this all the time.
[00:20:43] I said, you gotta understand life is not easy, life is hard. Life wants to beat you up, it loves doing that. But let me tell you, if you can get up from that, because it will, okay, you going to live a wonderful life.
[00:20:55] You learn from it and you move forward and it’s, it’s just an amazing thing. If you had to keep that positive outlook it’s like, well, something’s good going to happen. You know? Yes, we got to go through hard times, you’re going to get.
Travis Bader: [00:21:07] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:21:07] Beaten down, but I’m going to get up again. And so I have that attitude. I mean, it’s not always there, believe me, I’ve been through some very dark days and like, what’s.
Travis Bader: [00:21:16] Sure.
Darren Maughan: [00:21:16] Going to happen next. I’m sure everyone goes through that.
Travis Bader: [00:21:18] Sure.
Darren Maughan: [00:21:19] But I wasn’t looking at the less fortunate in the world. I mean, I come from a country, you know, people struggle everyday just to live. I understand that, I also understand that people with disabilities, you know, I have a son that’s special needs.
Travis Bader: [00:21:32] Yes.
Darren Maughan: [00:21:32] And I just look at him and I’m like why would I even consider feeling sorry for myself or feeling that I’ve had it tough or I’ve had it hard. I mean, I don’t have an everyday challenge that some of these kids have around the world and so that also, you know, gets reality set in. You know, we live a really good life here, we’re very, very blessed to live in, in this life that we live here.
[00:21:55] And you know, I had that opportunity and you were with me when we, when I set out my fire and there’s a big fire going out on the property in the middle of nowhere, I sit and I just, just feel so blessed. And I think to be able to have that feeling inside you, that, the gratefulness that you have for life, for being here for, for what you have, doesn’t matter what you have.
[00:22:18] You know, you’re getting up every day, that’s, that’s an advantage, some people can’t do that. So, you know, I think that also helps me stay positive, being grateful, you know, being thankful and, and, and just, just understanding that, that life is, can be hard, but it’s a beautiful thing, you know, it’s a beautiful place to be.
Travis Bader: [00:22:37] Couldn’t agree more. Yeah, holding that gratitude in your heart is definitely something that, that’ll drive things forward.
Darren Maughan: [00:22:44] Without a doubt, without a doubt.
Travis Bader: [00:22:45] We just went really deep there. That was.
Darren Maughan: [00:22:49] We did.
Travis Bader: [00:22:53] So bit of a segue, but you mentioned a tent falling down story.
Darren Maughan: [00:22:58] I did. I did. So this is way back when Oprah came to South Africa, Nelson Mandela was still alive and she was very close to him. She used to stay at his house, but she decided to do what they call a Christmas kindness. Okay. Which is a very, very good thing to do because besides opening a school, you know, and building a school for girls.
[00:23:18] She decided that she would go into these areas around Nelson Mandela’s area, basically, and set up a system where she could give presence to these underprivileged kids.
Travis Bader: [00:23:30] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:23:30] And now this was a massive undertaking because to actually even do that, do teams had to come on first and figure out where they were going to put these big, huge circus like tents because they had to basically accommodate the whole school and all the officials. Cause in Africa, there’s always a lot of officials.
Travis Bader: [00:23:49] Okay.
Darren Maughan: [00:23:49] Right. So, and also had to then go out and figure out what toys they’re going to get and buy different toys, you know, soccer balls and dolls and. They decided to put all these in backpacks and the pink ones would be for the girls and the blue one for the boys and then the different age groups.
[00:24:04] And so there was a huge amount of preparation. They sent out teams six months before that and they asked me to come down because this is the time they wanted me to come and provide some of my guys as well. And we spent time with the advance team doing these, this, this work to get the toys and locations and setting up.
[00:24:23] Anyway, when they will arrived, Oprah arrived. As I said, I alluded to it earlier, I was a Stedman Graham’s close protection officer, number one, right?
Travis Bader: [00:24:33] Yeah.
Darren Maughan: [00:24:34] And so I spent a lot of time with him and he would break away from the group quite often to go out and do his little motivational speaks and stuff like that. So once he had finished that he then went to join Oprah and Gayle. Gayle was Oprah’s very good friend, I think she still is.
Travis Bader: [00:24:50] Yeah.
Darren Maughan: [00:24:50] And join them down there so that he could help and be part of it. So the, the process went like this, a huge tent was set up, there was a smaller tent, which was executive tent where Oprah could go and wait and have refreshments. And in that main tent, there were a whole bunch of benches and a main stage in the front.
[00:25:12] And then all these kids would then be bussed in with buses and they would file in, in the order of age and they would fill this tent up from front to back. And once all the speeches had been done, then the procession was Oprah and whoever entourage was, in this case included Stedman, would then take these backpacks and walk down the lanes and hand the backpacks out to all the kids.
[00:25:35] It was great, and as the kids would then get them, then they would then file out. So the speeches had just been finished and we were just starting to hand the backpacks out. And as a close protection team, we were strategically placed so we could keep an eye on a principal. They only got through the first row and I just happened to look up out to the West and there was this amazing looking cloud and it was just rolling, but it was a lil far away and I didn’t really think much of it cause we were in Africa. We don’t get tornado’s really, right?
Travis Bader: [00:26:03] Yeah.
Darren Maughan: [00:26:04] Not that I’ve ever seen. By the time we got to the third row, the wind had picked up and this place was coming. The, the, the, this, this rolling cloud was now really getting close. I’m like, this is not that good. Anyway, by then Oprah said like, I’m going to go back to the executive tent and get a drink and then, Stedman said I want to keep going, you know, cause you know, which is great, so let’s keep going.
[00:26:25] Within the next five minutes, the storm hit and it hit hard and it was out of absolutely no where that the storm hit this tent. Now I’m talking, circus tent, I’m talking poles as big as tree trunks that holding this tent up.
Travis Bader: [00:26:39] Right.
Darren Maughan: [00:26:41] So just as, as, as a, a visual, the tent was set up in a longitudinal form and along one side where all the trucks that had delivered the backpacks that were parked along the side of the tent, that was to the East, that the wind came in from the West. We were halfway down one of the, the rows and I realized this is not good. So I say, Stedman, run, just get out of here now, he said, what do you mean? I said get out of here now.
[00:27:08] We had only just made it out of the tent when the full brunt of the storm hit, it hit so hard that it picked this tent off those, off those big poles and started throwing it over. By then I wasn’t looking back, but Stedman being a big guy and he’s a tall guy, he took off and he was gone. He was like a giraffe, he was gone. I’m like okay, he’s safe, he’s safe. I got my, my principal safe.
Travis Bader: [00:27:30] Yeah.
Darren Maughan: [00:27:31] But just before I got to the, where the trucks were lined up, where Stedman was running towards, Gayle was standing there screaming for her kids. She couldn’t find her kids.
Travis Bader: [00:27:41] Oh no.
Darren Maughan: [00:27:42] But at that stage it was a split second decision. We need to get under the truck because we’re going to die. And I felt it on the back of my head that the hair standing up, these big poles coming towards us.
Travis Bader: [00:27:55] Yeah.
Darren Maughan: [00:27:55] So I just out of instinct, I grabbed Gayle and I’d rugby dived her, I’ll call it, like a tackle, underneath the truck. Me and Gayle skidded underneath the truck and as we hit the ground, all I just heard was just, it was like a war zone. These poles were just raining down, but because of the angle where the truck was, they would hit the truck and not drop on us. If you envision what I’m saying.
Travis Bader: [00:28:18] Yeah, I get it.
Darren Maughan: [00:28:19] It had formed a triangle.
Travis Bader: [00:28:19] Yeah.
Darren Maughan: [00:28:20] But it was, it was like war and while this was happening, Gayle was screaming and I was holding her down. By now I had lost sight of of Stedman. So I don’t know, you know, I might be being a bit of trouble, but who cares? This is like, this is Armageddon and nobody knows what’s going on. And I look over to my right and I see this kid that had crawled on the other end, I grabbed him and I pulled him and it was, it was Gayle’s one kid right.
Travis Bader: [00:28:40] Okay.
Darren Maughan: [00:28:41] So she’s found one, don’t know where the other one is. Anyway, this must’ve lasted only for about 20 seconds and just all, everything you can imagine that when, when all hell breaks loose was.
Travis Bader: [00:28:52] No kidding.
Darren Maughan: [00:28:52] Happening. And then it went from that to deathly silent, deathly silence, not one word, no screaming, no nothing, for about five seconds. And then the radio started going crazy in my ear.
Travis Bader: [00:29:06] Ahh.
Darren Maughan: [00:29:06] Cause Oprah now is screaming where, where is Stedman? Where’s her best friend.
Travis Bader: [00:29:11] Yeah.
Darren Maughan: [00:29:12] Well, as it turned out, Stedman ran round the side of the truck, caught his hip. So he was, he was waiting the other side of the truck, so he didn’t get hurt, but he was now. I managed to get Gayle and her kid out, saw Stedman, grabbed Stedman, the radio’s going crazy. And guess who walks out of this absolute mayhem with two of the most important people? Your’s truly! It was just one of those times of my life, where I was like, Whoa!
Travis Bader: [00:29:37] Right place, right time.
Darren Maughan: [00:29:39] And it just happened, it was. And I just remember it was, it, it, it was one of the most scariest things cause I knew I was going to get hit. When you know this pole’s going to hit me on the back of the head. When we look at the devastation afterwards, it was mind blowing. The whole tent had gone all the, all the chairs had been knocked over. There were people who had broken arms. It was people that had massive concussions, including I think the pilot. There was some serious injuries.
Travis Bader: [00:30:04] Geez.
Darren Maughan: [00:30:06] Anyway, segue to this story. So from there, Oprah runs up and she’s very, very happy that like Stedman’s okay. But Stedman’s like agh, my hips really sore. So anyway, she said, Perez go to speak to Gayle and Stedman says, I said Stedman I think we should just get you checked out, get him and go to the hospital.
[00:30:22] He went, you know what, you’re right and I had just this little stick shift, little van, type thing that we were driving around in. Whereas the way everything else was set up in close protection and the convoy, you have a limousine one that has the principle and then you have the lead and you have the backup cars.
[00:30:38] And, and, and that was all set up for Oprah right. But for us, we just arrived at the latest so we were in this car. So I said, well jump in, I’ll push the seat right back, cause he’s a tall guy. Make sure you don’t hurt your hip. In fact, I said, I’ll you know, I’ll put you in the back. So he said, okay, let’s go. So we jumped in and as I’m about to go, next thing Oprah’s bodyguard jumps right into the passenger seat.
[00:30:59] Said what happened? He said Oprah’s coming. Why? She wants to be with Stedman, I’m like okay, but I’ve got to stick shift right. And I know what she’s like, she likes things smooth, which is fine.
Travis Bader: [00:31:10] Sure. Sure.
Darren Maughan: [00:31:12] And I went, okay. Anyway, she gets in and I’m like, okay, how do I let this clutch out smoothly? And change gears smoothly. And we’re going to do it right, okay. And just look out from the corner of my eye and I see all the other security guys running, diving into their vehicles, trying to form up a, you know, the convoy. It was, it was just one of those things, you know, we had to get there.
[00:31:30] And anyway, I got him to the hospital and they checked him out and he was fine. And, after that I dropped him off at Nelson Mandela’s home and I actually got to walk in there so.
Travis Bader: [00:31:39] Really?
Darren Maughan: [00:31:40] That was another Whoa. That was a day.
Travis Bader: [00:31:43] That was the day.
Darren Maughan: [00:31:44] Yeah. And the final, the final thing that happened that day. So when I get back and we’ll dusty and tired, and everyone’s going back to the hotel, I’m the last guy to walk in there and Oprah’s other body guard, she has two, and he says, Darren, Darren, come here. I’m like ugh, what have I done now? What have I done now? Cause you know, that’s what.
Travis Bader: [00:32:01] Yeah.
Darren Maughan: [00:32:02] So, I guess he said, wait here. And he said, he goes to Gayle, says Gayle, there he is. And Gayle runs, and I’m in the middle of the hotel foyer, she runs up and throws herself at me and hugs me. And I’m like, what’d I do now? So yeah, you get, you, you get, sometimes you get those days where you will remember, and it’s not just standing, holes in walls right.
Travis Bader: [00:32:24] That is fantastic. Well, Darren. I really appreciate your friendship, I really appreciate you making the time to come in and speak to us again. Thank you.
Darren Maughan: [00:32:33] Oh, you’re welcome Travis. And it’s reciprocal. I value our friendship. You’ve taught me a lot out here as well. Believe me, I’ve learned a lot from you and I’ll continue doing it.
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