A poll of 2,000 adults found secretary-turned-author J.K.Rowling as the most inspirational Briton, followed by helicopter pilot-turned-astronaut Major Tim Peake and saddle-swapping Victoria Pendleton.
Held to coincide with the Festival of Learning, which aims to encourage people of all ages to take up learning, it also found a third of Brits have been spurred on to try their hand at something new after watching high-profile names succeed in a new career. In total, 86 per cent of Brits believe it’s never too late to follow your dreams, learn new skills and even switch careers.
And 76 per cent of Brits say they have not given up on their childhood dream jobs- (including teaching, entertainment, medicine, law and even space travel.
Almost a quarter of those surveyed said they had switched careers and 29 per cent said they had recently taken part in learning.
Also on the list of inspiring Brits, which was dominated by people who have famously made big career changes, were plasterer-turned-Olympian Michael Edwards, aka Eddie the Eagle, who is back in the spotlight thanks to a major Hollywood film, in fourth place. In joint fifth place were chef-turned-political campaigner Jamie Oliver and serial entrepreneur and businesswoman, Karen Brady, whose influence spans from the boardroom to the football pitch.
The poll was carried out to launch the 2016 Festival of Learning, previously known as Adult Learners Week, an initiative from Learning and Work Institute to get Britons to take part in learning. The campaign, which is supported by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), encourages and celebrates lifelong learning and the impact it can have on personal and professional development.
Deputy chief executive of the Learning and Work Institute, Stephen Evans, said: “Learning has never been more important for life, work and health. It can help to build a new career, break with routine and meet new people, and inspire new interests.
"It’s great that so many people polled are inspired to learn to try new things or work toward their dream job. But we also know that too many people miss out on the life changing opportunities that learning brings.
"The Festival of Learning is all about making sure everyone gets the opportunity to learn. That’s why we’re calling on any institution, business, individual or organisation that offers adults a chance to experience something new to list their event, course or workshop atwww.festivaloflearning.org.uk. Learning isn’t just something that happens in a classroom, and it shouldn’t stop when you leave school.”
The top childhood dream career was musician, followed by teacher, and astronaut and pilot in joint third position.
Making up the top ten were actor, doctor, lawyer, Prime Minister ,chef and sports star.
But 67 per cent of Britons polled feel they lack the skills or qualifications to achieve their career goals.
The top 5 most inspiring Britons today according to the poll were:
1. J.K. Rowling
2. Tim Peake
3. Victoria Pendleton
4. Eddie the Eagle
5= Jamie Oliver
5= Karen Brady