It became one of the defining images of a tragic day: Tobias Ellwood, his face mottled with blood, trying to save a policeman who had been stabbed in the March 22, 2017, terror attack in London.
Despite his best efforts, Ellwood, an Eagle Scout, was unable to save constable Keith Palmer.
In the days following the attack, British politicians called Ellwood “an absolute hero” and “utterly heroic, pure and simple.”
Ellwood was born in New York City to British parents. He was a member of the Boy Scouts of America’s Transatlantic Council, which serves American Scouts living overseas. He earned Scouting’s highest honor on May 25, 1982, as a member of Troop 427 of Vienna, Austria.
In recognition of the one-year anniversary of the London attack, I caught up with Ellwood to ask him 5 Quick Questions. He talked about his favorite Scouting memory, serving in the British army and how being an Eagle Scout helps him in British politics.
Bryan on Scouting: What was your favorite memory from your time in Scouting?
Tobias Ellwood: “Lighting the big opening campfire in front of all of the troops at Scout camp in Bavaria where I worked on the staff. The wood pile was 6 feet high with a tiny candle place in the very base. After wooing the audience to shout ‘fire, fire,’
another staffer, off stage, would pull a string that went through a long stretch of piping to the fire and tip over a bucket full of gasoline hid in the top of the wood pile. The result — even if you were expecting it — was dramatic with flames charging into the sky. A great way to start the summer camp each week!”
[Editor’s note: That fire-lighting method wouldn’t fly at Scout camp today. For more fire safety tips, read this.]
BOS: How was earning Eagle Scout in Austria different from earning it in the continental U.S.?
T.E.: “I can’t compare, as I don’t know the U.S. system, but we had the U.S. embassy and the American international school sponsoring a very varied and active Scouting program.”
BOS: You have been widely praised for your bravery in the London terror attack. What has been your response to that global attention?
T.E.: “I am humbled by the attention — but reflect that sadly I did not save the policeman’s life.”
BOS: You were a member of the British army. How did being an Eagle Scout guide you in that service?
T.E.: “My entire Scouting experience helped establish values of integrity, determination, ambition and leadership which have stayed with me for life. There is no doubt it was a huge influence for good.”
BOS: How does being an Eagle Scout help you in your job in British politics?
T.E.: “It’s a constant reminder of what you can achieve if you put your mind to it. That you are the captain of your fate and can aspire to do much with effort, enthusiasm and commitment.”
Photo via Tobias Ellwood, Facebook