Intrepid TV adventurer Bear Grylls will become the new Chief Scout of the UK Scout Association, taking over from current Chief Scout, former Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan. At 34, Mr Grylls is the youngest-ever person to hold the position.
Mr Grylls, who was the youngest Briton to climb Mount Everest, has presented daring TV programmes such as Man vs Wild and Escape to the Legion. He became a Cub Scout aged eight, and attributes this time as part of the inspiration behind his adult adventures: ‘So much of who we are as an adult is formed when we are kids. What Scouting says to people is “It’s OK to go for it in life”.
‘Every child has the right to have an adventure. The prizes don’t always go to the biggest, the best and the strongest—they go to those who persevere. These are simple life lessons that Scouting teaches people.’
Although there are about 100,000 volunteers who help to run Scout groups, there are currently 33,000 hopeful would-be Scouts on waiting lists who need more leaders to volunteer before they can join Scout groups.
Mr Grylls says: ‘I have always loved helping young people live their dreams and taste real adventure. I hope I can use this post to encourage masses of adults in the UK to volunteer as leaders.
‘The young people in this country need them like never before, and we have more people wanting to join than there are places available.’
Safa Cheema, a 14-year-old explorer scout from Bristol, says: ‘All of the Scouts are really excited about Bear becoming Chief Scout. He’s really inspirational.’
Outgoing Chief Scout Peter Duncan says: ‘I have connected to the grass roots and have enjoyed seeing the adventurous and environmental awareness aspects of Scouting increase during my time as leader.’
Mr Grylls will take over from Mr Duncan in July, and will hold the voluntary post for five years. The position of Chief Scout was first created in 1920 with the appointment of Robert Baden-Powell, who founded the Scout movement in 1908.