Stars in their own eyes

Even the famous were young once. Elaine Carlton talked to four big names about youthful ambition.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes, explorer: When I was eight I wanted to be a commanding officer in the Royal Scots Greys Cavalry Regiment, which is now known as the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. Commanding officer was my father's title when he was killed towards the end of the Second World War. I got as far as being a captain - two ranks lower than commanding officer - but my lack of A-levels frustrated further progress in the right direction so I left the army in 1971. I needed to make money and the only thing the army had taught me which had any career application in civilian life was to lead a group of soldiers and train them in mountaineering and other activities. This would have meant being an adventure training instructor and I wasn't very keen on that, so my other option was to lead expeditions on a financially sound basis.

I had taken my first expedition when I was 18, crossing the Alps from the French side to the Spanish by mule, leading three people. I had enjoyed that trip, so I decided to start very unambitiously and work upwards. My trips just progressed from there.

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