Blog| 25 Scouts who changed the world


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Some of the UK’s most influential people first showcased their talents at Scouts, including pioneers in the worlds of business, politics, sport, science and the arts.

Scouts gave these high achievers a springboard to success.

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1. David Beckham

You did know: He earned 115 caps for England.

You didn’t know: His grandfather was one of the first Sea Scouts.

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2. Russell Brand

You did know: He’s starred in various Hollywood films including Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

You didn’t know: He was once a postman.

Niall Horan 200 3. Niall Horan

You did know: He is a member of band One Direction, which formed on TV show The X Factor.

You didn’t know: One Direction is the first British group to enter the US charts at number one with their debut album.


4. David Bowie

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You did know: His songs include Ziggy Stardust, Changes and Let’s Dance.  

You didn’t know: He has acted in over 15 films.

5. Tony Blair

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You did know: He was the UK Prime Minister for 10 years.  

You didn’t know: He once appeared as himself in an episode of The Simpsons.

Quote: 'Scouting has blazed a trail where others now follow.'


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6. Raymond Briggs

You did know: He wrote and illustrated such children’s classics as The Snowman and When the Wind Blows.

You didn’t know: The animated version of The Snowman has appeared on British TV every year since it was made into a film in 1982.


7. Billy Connolly

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You did know: The Big Yin is a world famous comedian, musician and actor.

You didn’t know: He was once in the Territorial Army.  


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8. Bryony Balen

You did know: She’s the youngest Briton to ski the full distance to the South Pole, a feat she completed at the age of 21.

You didn’t know: She was inspired to make her world record attempt after a visit by Polar explorer Andrew Cooney to her Scout Group. His was the record she broke!

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9. Richard Branson

You did know: He is head of the Virgin Group and the fourth richest person in the UK.

You didn’t know:  During the 1980s Richard Branson was appointed Britain’s ‘Litter Tsar’ by Margaret Thatcher.

Quote: ‘Scouting was great fun. I learnt a lot and I don’t think I could have done without it.’


10. David Hockney

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You did know: He is one of the UK’s most influential artists. 

You didn’t know: Since 2008, he has produced hundreds of drawings on iPhone and iPad.


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11. Andy Murray

You did know: The Wimbledon champion is the UK’s number one tennis player.  

You didn’t know: His grandfather was a professional footballer, playing for Hibernian.

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12. David Gilmour

You did know: He is the singer and guitarist in Pink Floyd.

You didn’t know:  He donated the £3.6m proceeds of a house sale to homeless charity Crisis.

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13. John Lennon

You did know: He was the rhythm guitarist in The Beatles.

You didn’t know: He was taught to play the harmonica by his Scout leader. 



14. Paul McCartney

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You did know: He was bass player in the most famous band in the world.  

You didn’t know: Yesterday is the most covered song in the history of recorded music.


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15. Jeremy Paxman

You did know: The journalist and author is the notoriously tenacious interviewer on BBC’s Newsnight.

You didn’t know: The Enigma machine was sent to him in the mail after its theft in the year 2000.

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16. Rhys Jones

You did know: He was the youngest person to climb the highest mountain on each continent. 

You didn’t know: He heard a talk about Everest while a Scout and made it his ambition to climb it. He stood on the summit on the morning of his 20th birthday.

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17. Sir David Attenborough

You did know: He has presented natural history shows on television for over 50 years. 

You didn’t know: He has 31 honorary degrees from British universities, more than any other person.

Quote: ‘There was a big jamboree in Leicester, and because I was the smallest kid I was asked to lead Lord Robert Baden-Powell to the podium to address the camp. It was a great moment for me, I only wish I had a picture of it.'

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18. Bear Grylls

You did know: The explorer, TV personality and writer is also the UK Chief Scout.

You didn’t know: He broke his back in a freefall parachuting accident in 1996.

Quote: ‘As Chief Scout, I’ve met some of the most inspiring young people ever. I’m proud to be part of the largest youth movement in the world.'

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19. Sir Chris Bonington

You did know: The UK climber and explorer has tackled challenges across the world, including a successful ascent of Everest in 1975.  

You didn’t know: He led his first climb at the age of 16.

Quote: ‘Scouting does an absolutely terrific job. It’s all about getting young people outdoors and encouraging them to be independent.'


20. Jamie Oliver

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You did know: The TV chef and food campaigner was recognised for his work with an MBE in 2003.

You didn’t know: He is Britain’s second biggest-selling author since records began – ranked just behind Harry Potter creator JK Rowling.


21. Ray Mears

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You did know: The survival and bushcraft expert has fronted numerous TV shows and written many books on the outdoors. 

You didn’t know: Ray started his own bushcraft company at the age of 19.


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22. Keith Richards

You did know: He is a founding member, guitarist and songwriter in The Rolling Stones.  

You didn’t know: He owns a large library and admits to once wanting to train as a librarian.

Quote: 'All that boosted my confidence at a crucial moment - especially the fact that I was promoted [to patrol leader] so fast.'

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23. Helen Glover

You did know: She won the first ever British Olympic gold medal in women's rowing at London 2012.

You didn’t know: She’s a trained PE teacher.


24. Simon Pegg

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You did know: His countless writing and acting credits include Spaced, Shaun of the Dead and Star Trek.    

You didn’t know: Simon is godfather to Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow's daughter, Apple.


25. Robert Baden-Powell

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You did know: No list is complete without the founder of the Scout Movement. 

You didn’t know: He was an artist, actor, writer and soldier, who defended the town of Mafeking during the Boer War.



There are 37,000 young people on its waiting lists for Scouts, Beavers and Cubs. If you’d like to inspire the next Beckham, Attenborough or Grylls, why not become an adult volunteer?

Find your nearest group by entering your postcode on our homepage.



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