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Bear Grylls says Scouts should learn from founder's failings

15 Jun 2020 News

Bear Grylls

Bear Grylls has said the Scouts must learn from its founder's failings, after a campaign called for his statue to be removed over links to the far right.

The statue of Lord Baden-Powell was installed in 2008 and faces Brownsea Island in Poole harbour.

MI5 files declassified in 2010 show that Baden-Powell was invited to meet Hitler after holding discussions about building closer ties with the Hitler Youth programme. 

Grylls, chief scout, said in a statement on the charity's website: “As Scouts, we most certainly do not celebrate Baden-Powell for his failings. We see them and we acknowledge them. And if he were here today we would disagree with him on many things, of that there is no doubt. And I suspect he would too.

“But we also recognise that Baden-Powell is part of our history, and history is nothing if we do not learn from it.  So we also acknowledge Baden-Powell's vision, and I truly am so grateful to him for starting the Scouts.”

Council: 'We made the decision quickly in order to protect it'

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council had announced that the statue of Baden-Powell would be temporarily taken down after it was put on a list “detailing potential targets for protestors”.

Cllr Mark Howell, deputy leader at the council, said: “This listing placed the much-loved statue at risk of damage or even destruction. We made the decision quickly in order to protect it.”

Despite this, the statue remains in place for now. A group of people had gathered around the statue to attempt to stop the removal, although the council said the reason for the delay was that “the foundations are deeper than originally envisaged”.

“We will be providing 24-hour security until it is either removed or the threat diminishes”, Howell said.

Robert Syms, Conservative MP for Poole,tweeted that he was opposed to the permanent removal of the statue.

Grylls did not explicitly comment on whether or not the statue in Poole should be removed, but said that he “whole-heartedly” stands beside “the righteous anger unleashed by the killing of George Floyd”.

He added: “It's right that we take time to listen, to educate ourselves, and reflect on our movement’s history. We need the humility to recognise there are times when the views and actions from our Scouting’s past do not always match the values we live by today. We must learn, adapt and improve.”

Grylls said that Baden-Powell may have taken the first step in creating Scouting, “but the journey continues today without him”.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust remove two statues

Meanwhile, the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity has said statues of Robert Clayton and Thomas Guy will be taken out of public view.

Clayton was formerly Lord Mayor of London and had ties to the Royal African Company, which transported slaves. Guy invested in the South Sea Company, which was also involved in the slave trade.

A statement from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, and King’s College London, said: “We absolutely recognise the public hurt and anger that is generated by the symbolism of public statues of historical figures associated with the slave trade in some way.

“We have therefore decided to remove statues of Robert Clayton and Thomas Guy from public view.”

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