Shrewsbury School

Old Salopian Michael Palin awarded a knighthood

Monday 7 January 2019

We were proud to learn that Michael Palin had been awarded a knighthood in The Queen’s New Year’s Honours list “for services to travel, culture and geography”.

Sir Michael was at Shrewsbury (Rigg’s Hall) from 1957 to 1961, following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great-uncles.

Michael is on the far left, 2nd row from the back

Over the years, he has inspired thousands of Salopians – not just because of the success he has achieved as a broadcaster, writer and actor, but perhaps most especially for the personal qualities that shine through so much of his television and writing work; qualities we like to think of as being “typically Salopian”. He is well-known not only for his achievements but for having a naturally curious mind, being open to new experiences, not afraid of failure but eager to take on new challenges; someone who follows his passions and has remained true to himself – and, of course, known for his wonderful sense of humour and his readiness to laugh at himself.

We were honoured that in 2016, he gave his consent and approval for All-Rounder Scholarships for boys and girls joining Shrewsbury in the Third Form to be awarded in his name.

In an article published to coincide with the launch of the Michael Palin All-Rounder Scholarships, he described how some of the interests he has subsequently pursued in his career were nurtured at Shrewsbury, and reflected on what his years at the School had taught him:

“My interest in Geography was spotted early by a Mr Brown, who encouraged me to think the unthinkable and concertina a two-year A-level course into just 12 months. Because of his belief in me I worked extra hard and passed the exams a year early. It was the icing on the cake for both David Brown and myself when I was made President of the Royal Geographical Society in 2009.

Sir Michael speaking at Shrewsbury School during his Presidential Year

“It was at Shrewsbury that I was introduced to the work of Ernest Hemingway, about whom I later was to make a television series. It was at Shrewsbury that I overcame my shyness to stand in front of the School and recite Robert Frost’s fine poem Mending Wall, which won me the Bentley Elocution Prize for that year.

“As I have gone through life I realise that I learnt a lot of valuable lessons in my four years as a pupil at Shrewsbury. I learnt to follow my curiosity and argue my own case. I learnt to deal with doubts and fears by simply being pushed to do something I'd never tried before. When I was asked if I would give my name to the All-Rounder Scholarships I felt honoured, but my immediate reaction was that there must be so many Salopians who have achieved more in life and would set a better example than myself. And then there came back to me from all those years ago an echo of that still small voice telling me not to step backwards but to step forwards.

“I very much hope that those who benefit from the Michael Palin Scholarships will appreciate that they are named after someone who came to Shrewsbury mistaking shyness for inability and indecision for lack of talent, and who left having discovered that everything that seemed impossible was possible.”

More information about the Sir Michael Palin All-Rounder Scholarships can be found on our Third Form Scholarships page.  

back to top