Famous in their own field

There are also many ex Scouts and Leaders from our District who went on to achieve success, ‘making their mark’ in a variety of ways. They are not all necessarily nationally famous or all been rewarded with an Honour, but they are probably ‘famous’ in their own field. We have produced a list to highlight as many of these people as possible and hope that Scouting somehow helped them on their way:

Walter Leonard Allinson (10th Finchley)

A Civil Servant and Diplomat who held a number of overseas posts from 1948. In 1979 he was Knighted for his contributions to Her Majesty the Queen’s Diplomatic Service. He had previously been awarded an MVO in 1961 and had a CMG conferred upon him in 1976.

See Wikipedia page

Robert Anderson (14th Finchley)

A British museum curator and historian of chemistry, and his interests include the history of scientific instrumentation. He is also the recipient of a number of prestigious awards and honours.

See Wikipedia page

David Bedford (3rd Golders Green)

Long distance runner whose athletic career spanned the early 1970s. In addition to holding British records he also established a new world record for the 10,000 metres in 1973. Following his retirement he has held a number of athletic related administrative posts including being the race director of the London Marathon.
He was awarded the OBE in 2014 for services to athletics and charitable fundraising.

See Wikipedia page

Rev. Geoffrey Druitt (11th Finchley)

He was the first Scoutmaster of the 11th Finchley and later went on to serve as an Army Chaplain to Field Marshal Montgomery (Monty)’s 21 Army Group.
In 1946 was awarded an OBE and in 1948 made an Officer of the Legion of Merit (USA)

See Geoffrey Druitt – Recipient – (militarytimes.com)

Keith Duff (3rd Friern Barnet)

Gained a Ph.D. in geology from Leicester before joining the Nature Conservancy Council (later English Nature), the UK Government Agency that promoted the conservation of wildlifegeology and wild places throughout England.

In 1991 when it was split into separate bodies for England, Scotland and Wales he became the Chief Scientist for the English organisation (English Nature) with responsibility for leading and quality assuring scientific work. This involved briefing and advising government Ministers on high profile issues relating to wildlife conservation, such as Genetically Modified Organisms, and species management.

After retiring he remained active in geological research and also worked as an environmental consultant on golf courses. He has published many articles and books, including a book on birds and golf courses (in partnership with RSPB).

William (Bill) Hart (11th Finchley)

Local Councillor and long-time supporter of local Scouting for which he received the Medal of Merit in 1978.

Served as Mayor of Finchley in 1960.

Harry Hicks (11th Finchley)

Long distance runner who represented Great Britain in the Marathon at the 1956 Olympic Games.

See Wikipedia page

Peter Kneebone (6th Finchley)

Designer, Illustrator, Writer, and Educator. In 1951 was PA to Hugh Casson, designer of the 1951 South Bank Exhibition. Published several books of humorous cartoons and did many illustrations for the Radio Times.

See peterkneebone.com

Peter Lachmann (4th Finchley)

Peter was born in Berlin in 1931 and moved to London in 1938. He attended Christ’s College, Finchley and then trained in medicine at Cambridge and University College Hospital, graduating in 1956.

In 1962 he obtained PhD and in 1974 ScD degrees at Cambridge in immunology. He specialised in the study of the complement system.

He was emeritus Sheila Joan Smith Professor of Immunology at the University of Cambridge, a fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge and honorary fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge and of Imperial College.

Peter was knighted for services to medical science in 2002.

See Wikipedia page

David Limbert (4th Finchley)

A meteorologist who was invited in 1956 to join an expedition to Antarctica to set up scientific survey sites. He had great success and later joined the permanent staff of the British Antarctic Survey, eventually becoming Head of Meteorology. He also had a weather region named after him.

Robin Mead (10th Finchley)

Robin became a journalist after leaving school and while working as a sub editor for a national newspaper he took on the role of District Press Officer.

He later worked for the Times before deciding to become a freelance Travel Writer. He has a PhD in travel history and over nearly four decades has written more than 30 travel books. He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society as well as a Fellow of the British tourist industry’s leading professional body, the Institute of Travel and Tourism.

In recent years Robin has been a lecturer on cruise ships and having visited more than 100 countries he is now a recognised authority on all aspects of travel.

See robinmead.com

Eric Merriman (4th Finchley)

Originally a script writer with Picture Post, he also made humorous contributions to Scouting magazine. After the war he became a scriptwriter with BBC Radio, writing material for many well-known stars of the day.

His main claim to fame was as creator and scriptwriter of “Beyond our Ken” and “Round the Horne” starring Kenneth Horne.

See Wikipedia page

John Niblett (15th Finchley)

A former employee of the Metropolitan Police Solicitor’s Department and the Crown Prosecution Service. His experience of Crown Court practice and procedure, and as Head of one of the Director of Public Prosecutions’ Policy branches with responsibility for disclosure issues, he wrote the reference book ‘Disclosure in Criminal Prosecution’.

This provides a valuable insight into the development of the law, the reasons for change and the legislative reforms that took place in the late 1990s.

He was awarded the OBE.

John gained his Queen’s Scout Badge in 1962.

Raymond Pett (10th Finchley)

Major-General Raymond Austin Pett CB MBE DL (King’s Own Royal Border Regiment. Queen’s Lancashire Regiment)

He was awarded an MBE in 1976 and in the 1995 birthday honours was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB). Later he became a Deputy Lieutenant (DL).

Rev H. Cecil Pugh (94th North London (Later 1st Friern Barnet))

Herbert Cecil Pugh (Cecil Pugh) was a Congregational Church minister. He was born in 1898 in South Africa and was educated at Mansfield College, Oxford. Following the First World War, during which he served as a South African Army medical orderly, he was ordained in 1924. After spending some time in Camberley he moved to Christ Church, Friern Barnet where he served as the Minister from 1927 until 1939. 

By the time he arrived at the church the 94th North London Scout Troop had been going for 9 years and the Wolf Cubs for 2 year. He became the Group’s Padre and in 1930 formed the Rover Crew which he then led for several years.

When the Second World War started Cecil became an RAF Chaplain, with the rank of Squadron Leader. He served at RAF Bridgnorth in Shropshire until 1941, when he was then posted to Takoradi on the Gold Coast. His passage to Takoradi was to be via a voyage on the troop ship Anselm to FreetownSierra Leone.

On 5th July, the ship, heavily overloaded with about 1,200 men including 175 RAF personnel, was torpedoed by a German submarine. The explosion caused extensive damage below decks, where collapsed overheads and wrecked ladders injured or trapped many of the men in one of the converted holds. After helping on deck with the launch of lifeboats and liferafts, and having every opportunity to save himself, Cecil insisted on being lowered into the hold to comfort his men saying “My love of God is greater than my fear of death”.  Within a few minutes of kneeling to pray the ship plunged and sank and he was never seen again.

Following the war when some of the men returned home, their recollections of Cecil’s actions started to appear in the press. In 1947 his bravery was honoured with the George Cross, which King George VI presented to his widow Amy Pugh and Alastair Pugh, one of his sons, at Buckingham Palace.

In the best tradition of the Service and of a Christian minister, he gave up his life for others.

See Wikipedia page for full details and citation

John (Jack) Quinton (186th North London (Later 2nd Friern Barnet))

Jack was a keen Scout, Leader and subsequently Group Scout Master with the 186th North London, prior to the Group joining Finchley and changing its name to the 2nd Friern Barnet.

He was a Patrol Leader and attended camps at Gilwell Park, Essex, as well as the World Scout Jamboree in the Netherlands in 1937. He then moved up to become a Rover Scout and was awarded the King’s Scout badge. During the war he served in the RAF as a Navigator and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. After the war he returned to the Group as the Scout Leader before eventually becoming the Group Scout Master.

When the company for which he was working downsized he left the Group and returned to the RAF.

On the 13th August 1951 while on a training exercise his aircraft collided with another plane causing a hole in the fuselage. Jack was in the rear and through quick thinking he managed to take the only parachute close to hand and hook it onto the 16 year old cadet he was with and force him out of the plane. This act of heroism was acknowledged by the King and Jack was posthumously awarded the George Cross.

The story of his death was subsequently published in an article in the 1962 Scout Annual entitled “He Lived – and Died – by the Scout Law” which was written by Leslie Hunt, who had served with Jack during the war.

See Wikipedia page for full details and citation

John Somerville (10th Finchley)

Sculptor. His works include a statue of Spike Milligan in the grounds of Stephens House (formerly Avenue House).

See Wikipedia page

Ethel Taylor (4th Finchley)

When the 4th Finchley first started in 1917 they did not have a leader, but were taken under the wing of the Congregational church. Ethel Taylor, a young church worker agreed to help as many men were serving in the forces. During this time she also started the Cub Pack and remained the leader until July 1922.

Ethel later went on to train as a nurse and in 1928 left for China to work as a missionary. In 1932 she came back to England before returning to China as a Nursing Sister in 1938. During the war she was interned by the Japanese. Later, like many other missionaries, after the establishment of the People’s Republic, she went elsewhere in Asia. In the mid 1950s, she was in Triang, Malaysia, one of the new villages established during the ‘Malayan Emergency’.

In the January 1955 Honours List she received the MBE “for her role with the Malaysian Relief Teams, St. John’s Ambulance Brigade, Federation of Malaya”.

Ethel’s good work continued until 1971 when she returned to England to live in retirement at Eastbourne, Sussex. She died there in March 1993 aged 95.

See Taylor, Ethel BDCC (bdcconline.net)

Michael Terry (4th Finchley)

Mike was the Executive Secretary of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement and became a personal friend of Nelson Mandela. He led the organisation through two decades until it was disbanded in 1994,

He later became a school teacher. Upon his death in December 2008 lengthy obituaries appeared in the national newspapers.

Mike gained his Queen’s Scout Badge in 1965.

Ronnie Thompson (10th Finchley)

Ronnie has had a distinguished life in both sport and his career. After studying at Caius College Cambridge and serving a five year apprenticeship in the City of London he became a Chartered Accountant.

He was an excellent athlete and while at Cambridge was awarded a Blue. He later ran for Scotland on a number of occasions, notably at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games that were held in Cardiff. He ran the 440 yards and the relay, just missing out on a medal.

Later he decided to concentrate on rugby and joined London Scottish, subsequently playing for Scotland against Ireland in 1960. In all he won 15 caps, playing on the wing, between 1960 and 1964, 12 of which were in the Five Nations Championship.

At the age of 25, Ronnie gained employment in Switzerland which eventually led to a career with Philip Morris. After being Director of Finance for Philip Morris International he, at the age of 32, became the first President of Philip Morris Europe in Lausanne and later the Executive Vice President of Philip Morris International. Later he worked for Revlon International.

Ronnie still (2023) resides in Switzerland and has become a Swiss national.

Vic Usher (94th North London (Later 1st Friern Barnet))

Local Businessman and Councillor who served as Mayor of Barnet in 1969 and 1982.

He was a Grand Commander of the Order of St. John and was awarded the OBE in 1985.

Look up your local Scout Group, because you’ve got a safe, practical community who will encourage and support you.'
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls