On August 25th 2019 British Airways turned 100. We are celebrating this landmark birthday by celebrating the people of Britain. Because it’s the brilliant people of Britain who make us who we are.
Throughout our Centenary year we will be celebrating the best of modern Britain.
Our first series will showcase truly inspiring Brits who embody the best of our homeland.
They are the people who represent the values we want to celebrate and who make Britain the creative, open-minded, pioneering and welcoming place it is today.
Regarded as one of the greatest screen actors of his generation. His illustrious acting career has seen him as Dracula, Sirius Black in the Harry Potter franchise, master spy George Smiley and in his Academy Award winning performance as Winston Churchill he has cemented his status as an iconic British legend.
Kathryn co-founded Decoded, a technology education company up-skilling adults in data analytics, AI and machine learning. In 2014 she received an MBE for services to education in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours. A passionate advocate for getting women into the tech industry, she also successfully campaigned for coding as mandatory on the UK National Curriculum.
Golden Globe winner and three times Emmy nominee Joanne Froggatt is best known for Downton Abbey, but her career includes roles as dark and brooding as the moors she once called home.
Kate Devlin is an academic, writer and a leading expert in Artificial Intelligence investigating how people react and interact with technology. She is a pioneering force in the field of intimacy and technology, examining the profound impact emerging and future technologies may have on society.
Equally at home in comedy and drama, Colman is a familiar face, and is fast developing an international reputation in film. Her performance as Queen Anne in The Favourite has been universally acclaimed.
BrewDog founders James Watt and Martin Dickie have created a special brew, Speedbird 100, to celebrate British Airways’ centenary
To celebrate this milestone year, British Airways has partnered with a selection of Great British brands to create a limited-edition series of food, drink and gifts.
To celebrate this milestone year British Airways has hosted Her Majesty the Queen, re-painted aircraft with heritage liveries and looked to the future of aviation.
We were delighted to welcome Her Majesty The Queen to our headquarters to mark our centenary.Find out more
As we celebrate our past we have also been looking to the future and what the next 100 years of aviation might look like – including how aircraft could be powered.Explore the future of fuels
As part of our special year, the Red Arrows will join forces with our 747 painted in BOAC livery, for a spectacular fly-past at this summer’s Royal International Air Tattoo in Gloucestershire.Find out more
Having established herself as a tour de force in the world of skeleton racing – in 2010 she became the first British gold medallist at a Winter Olympics in over 30 years – Amy retired from the sport to inspire the next generation of athletes, working as a Team GB Ambassador and mentor.
Nancy is a model, counsellor and amputee whose aim is to increase the representation of people with physical disabilities and learning difficulties in the media and fashion world.Read about Nancy's positivity
For almost half a century, Martin has been capturing the diversity and eccentricity of British culture, from quirky seaside towns to the Notting Hill Carnival. His witty and unique brand of photography has been featured in 40 books and 80 exhibitions worldwide, making him one of the most distinguished photographers of his generation.
A professor of computer science and a technology evangelist, Sue has been a leading figure in her field for more than 20 years. As well as her academic position at Durham University, she has also been a UK government advisor, a trustee at Comic Relief, and set up the UK’s first online network for women in technology, BCSWomen.
Created by English author A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh is the world's most famous bear, and has been beloved by children around the world for over 90 years. With a rich storytelling heritage, the adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood represent friendship, simple joys and the curious and gentle nature of a child’s imagination. He recently starred in Disney’s Christopher Robin.
Helen Sharman was the first-ever British astronaut to leave Earth. She pushed the boundaries of science and space travel after answering a radio advert that said ‘Astronaut wanted. No experience necessary’. Helen will be touring extensively in this, the 50th anniversary year of the first moon landings.
This young chef has been on TV since the age of nine and already has her own cooking show and blog Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch. She has been nominated for Children's BAFTA three times and has inspired thousands of children to pick up a pinny and rolling pin.
Five-time Paralympic gold medallist Ellie Simmonds OBE was the youngest ever recipient of the MBE at just 14. She won two gold medals at Beijing, despite being the youngest member of the team at just 13 years old. She followed it up further with two gold medals in London and another in Rio, winning countless World Titles and breaking numerous World Records along the way. Ellie continues to inspire future generations and is a role model to disabled and non-disabled people alike.
The first woman to win a boxing title at the 2012 Olympic Games and the first British boxer to successfully defend their title in 92 years. She has been named the most influential LGBTQ person in Britain.
Dr Nott is the ‘Indiana Jones of Surgery’. Working in London as a general and vascular surgeon, Dr Nott has also worked in some of the world’s worst centres of conflict and disaster zones. He has won several humanitarian awards and the David Nott Foundation aims to improve the standards and practice of humanitarian surgery.
One of Britain’s most successful and outspoken actors. Also known as Riz MC, he is a multi-talented rapper and activist. He won an Emmy for his lead role in The Night Of and will tell an “untold British story” with his ambitious new drama Englistan.
Jane is an outstanding British icon. An ethologist and anthropologist, Jane is considered to be the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees and has worked extensively on conservation and animal welfare issues. She was pioneering during the 60s by venturing into the forests of Tanzania alone, and is still leading the way in her 80s using her global partnerships with amongst others Leonardo di Caprio on the welfare of Great Apes. Jane continues to inspire hundreds of thousands of young people to make our world a better place for all.
Sannah is a Volunteer Coordinator within the Islamic Charity Sector. She is also a radio presenter and producer who has Albinism, is partially sighted and suffers from an incurable muscle weakening disease. Yet despite this, Sannah spends much of her life advocating for equality and inclusion for people with disabilities and illnesses, and those from ethnic minority communities.
Aneeta is an author, international human rights ambassador and founder of Freedom charity. Freedom works to prevent forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child abuse and modern-day slavery. Her hard work was instrumental in ensuring forced marriage became a criminal offence.
John is the Director of The Rainbow Project, Northern Ireland's leading LGBTQ support and advocacy organisation. The Rainbow Project deals with physical, mental and emotional health and well-being of the LGBTQ community. John is also a key campaigner for equal marriage in Northern Ireland.
Who would have believed that a cross dressing potter could become so mainstream. After winning the Turner Prize for his pots, Grayson has recently become a broadcaster making a series of massively popular documentaries reflecting and interrogating modern Britain, examining our attitudes to class, masculinity and most recently our rites of passage. Last year saw him curate the Royal Academy’s biggest, brightest and most colourful summer exhibition to date.
The British fashion designer has been creating iconic designs since 2000. Her designs have been worn by the Duchess of Cambridge and Penelope Cruz. Her eclectic prints and sense of style have reimagined our First washbags and pyjamas.Read about Alice and the new First
A leader in the world of design and industry, William graduated from the RCA in 1988 and founded William Edwards England in the heart of his hometown Stoke-on-Trent. He is now one of the leading designers and producers of fine bone china, supplying the world’s finest restaurants, hotels and airlines.Read about William and the new First
Introducing award-winning British Industrial Designer William Welch, the head of Studio William Cutlery. William’s enthusiasm and attention to detail, really shows in his original cutlery designs, which push the boundaries of traditional cutlery.Read about William and the new First
With a career spanning 50 years and over 80 books to her name, Mary Berry CBE is one of Britain’s hardest working and most loved chefs. Starting out as the cookery editor of Housewife magazine, television soon came calling with the launch of the Great British Bake Off. She has remained a firm fixture on our screens ever since.
Aged 30, Ben Smith decided to confront his mental health problems and began to run. As a bullied school kid, he turned his new-found passion into a charity fundraiser for mental health charities, running 401 marathons consecutively. Now founder of the 401 Foundation, he also campaigns for LGBT awareness.
At only 29, Abbie Hutty was the youngest person to be elected Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers for her work designing spacecraft structures for Airbus. An advocate for STEM careers, she promotes engineering to the next generation and has delivered a TEDx talk and spoken at a UN conference.
As Managing Director of Backstage London, Andy Ayim invests in businesses run by under-represented groups. One of the FT’s Top 10 most influential BAME tech leaders, he is committed to making tech more accessible and upskilling people from low income backgrounds.
A former protégé of Gordon Ramsay, Angela worked in the kitchens of some of London’s most prestigious restaurants before opening her own Michelin-starred restaurant Murano, in 2008. Inspired by her nonna’s passion for honest food, her sophisticated yet simple Italian-inspired cooking continues to win her an army of foodie fans across the globe.
Chess prodigy and computer game designer before he left his teens, Demis Hassabis was destined to become one of the world’s greatest minds. The founder of DeepMind, which has revolutionised AI research, he has been recognised by Time Magazine as one of their most influential people and awarded a CBE
You should have gone to Specsavers.' 38 million customers certainly think so. From humble beginnings in Doug and Dame Mary’s Perkins spare room, the fashionable but affordable eye care brand now sells in 10 countries under their discerning gaze. Mary also applies this acumen to her charity work, and she was made a Dame for her philanthropy in 2007.
Eben Upton is an engineer and technology entrepreneur, who developed the best-selling British computer, starting in 2006. A committed philanthropist, he also established the Raspberry Pi Foundation which promotes the teaching of computer science and electronics. Outside of engineering and charity work he’s a wordsmith, co-authoring the Oxford Rhyming Dictionary with his father, Professor Clive Upton
Hilary Mantel has not only won the Man Booker prize twice, but was the first Briton and woman to do so. Her best-selling writing, which spans fiction, memoir and short stories, has secured prime time TV adaptations and seen her deliver a BBC Reith Lecture series on history and literature.
Born into a working class family in Scotland and with no formal training, contemporary artist Jack Vettriano breaks the mould. Counting celebrities Jack Nicholson and Sir Tim Rice among his collectors, he has sold out major exhibitions across the world and painted Britain’s best-selling image, The Singing Butler.
After writing her first ‘novel’ aged nine, Jacqueline Wilson began her adult writing career as a journalist in Dundee. Turning her hand to fiction, she had her breakthrough with The Story of Tracy Beaker, and became one of Britain’s most successful young adult fiction authors - selling over 40 million books in 34 different languages.
With a distinctive sound that effortlessly bridges the gap between pop, soul, R&B and house music, Jess burst onto the airwaves in 2014 on Clean Bandit’s catchy hit Rather Be. The only British female solo artist to achieve 7 UK number one singles, she has cemented her status as a modern British pop icon.
From her early beginnings busking around Europe and writing songs for the BBC, Julia Donaldson CBE has become one of Britain’s most beloved children’s authors. Her celebrated story, The Gruffalo, has been translated into 72 languages, and her books have sold over 65 million copies worldwide and won numerous international awards.
Karam Sethi, Co-Founder and Food & Creative Director of JKS Restaurants, is a London-based restaurateur. He started JKS with the opening of Trishna in 2008. The group now operates 13 restaurants across London with Karam responsible for the creation of JKS Restaurants’ Indian concepts from food, drink and design.
Making science sexy is all in a day’s work for Professor Brian Cox. His hit BBC series Wonders of the Universe has been credited with boosting the popularity of cosmology. He holds two Guinness World Record titles for his sell-out debut tour, and he’s currently on a world tour.
Professor Robert Winston is a world-renowned expert in fertility and genetics and BAFTA-winning broadcaster. His eclectic career was born out of a desire to communicate science, and has seen him publish over 20 books alongside TV presenting. Still at the forefront of scientific revolution, he is currently leading pioneering research on women’s and babies’ health at the Genesis Research Trust.
In the space of four years, Ross Bailey went from school drop out to CEO. His company, Appear Here, is the largest platform to rent retail space in the world. 200,000 brands use Appear Here to bring their idea to life from Apple, Chanel and Supreme to thousands of independents.
From a career as results-topping teacher to founding youth leadership charity RECLAIM, Ruth Ibegbuna has dedicated her life to helping young people. One of The Sunday Times 500 most influential people, she continues to fight for wide-reaching social change and bridge the cultural divides that threaten unity
Costume designer Sandy Powell has designed some of the most fabulous clothes seen on screen. From The Young Victoria to The Favourite, she is the mastermind behind the aesthetic for countless iconic characters and been nominated for fourteen academy awards along the way. Her contribution to the film industry was recognised in 2011 when she was awarded an OBE.
This year, Tessy Ojo became the first British person to win the Martin Luther King Award. A campaigner for social equality and justice for young people, she is the Chief Executive of The Diana Award, founded in memory of Princess Diana and has over 20 years experience in charity leadership.
Nobel Prize-winning biologist Venki Ramakrishnan, helped to understand how the information in genes is used by an enormous molecule called the ribosome to make the thousands of proteins of life. Now President of the Royal Society, his memoir, Gene Machine, describes the race for the structure of the ribosome.
Amma Asante MBE is a multi-award winning writer and director, winning a BAFTA for her first film, A Way Of Life. Her second, Belle, was the highest grossing independent of the year, and in 2016, Amma became the first person of colour to open the BFI London Film Festival with her film ‘A United Kingdom’.
Peter Jones had always set his sights on becoming a successful businessman. He’s now a successful investor in a range of businesses and has become famous for sharing his invaluable wisdom on BBC’s Dragons’ Den. He founded his own charity committed to improving the lives of thousands of young people
Ryan’s no stranger when it comes to pushing boundaries. The biology graduate turned bartender has been disrupting the global bar scene with his Mr Lyan hospitality empire, known for its pioneering drinks. He’s got the awards to prove it too, including Imbibe Magazine’s Personality of the Decade.
Tan France always dreamt of a career in fashion, and it didn’t take long before he was designing and manufacturing for luxury brands across Europe and Asia. As the fashion expert on Queer Eye, he shot to fame as a TV personality with a heart, and has since secured his own Netflix series which he will co-present with Alexa Chung.
Former BA Cabin Service Director, Patricia Pearce established her charity, Dreamflight, during her 39 year career managing both simultaneously before retiring from BA. Originally intended as a one-off, the charity has now taken over 6,000 disabled and seriously ill children on a once in a lifetime trip - counting 37 Paralympian's as alumni.
For over 25 years, the legendary Pat McGrath has transformed beauty and fashion on a global scale, creating the beauty looks for the world’s most prestigious luxury brands and iconic fashion shows from Prada to Givenchy. This year McGrath’s boundary-pushing cosmetics line, Pat McGrath Labs, became the biggest selling beauty brand at Selfridges.
A star of the stage and screen, Alfie is one of the world’s most renowned tenors. After conquering the most prestigious global opera halls, he has taken the lead in both West End and Broadway productions – including a Tony-winning performance in Baz Luhrmann’s La Bohème –before starring in ITV’s Mr Selfridge.
With a unique ability to transport audiences with her exhilarating set designs, Bunny Christie is the production designer behind the spellbinding world created in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. She has won four Olivier awards for her work and was recently awarded an OBE for services to theatre.
A serious player in global fashion, Caroline has a knack for spotting the next big thing. Since being appointed chief executive of the British Fashion Council in 2009, she has been credited with raising the profile of London Fashion Week, fostering emerging British design talent, and pioneering digital innovation in the industry.
Sprinter Dina Asher-Smith is the fastest woman in Britain, ever. She won three gold medals in the 2018 European Championships in Berlin, was the fastest woman in the world in the 100m and 200m in 2018 and was voted British Sportswoman of the Year.
Kelly has been inspiring homeowners with her timeless neutral interior style and range of home products for over 40 years. The celebrated designer has put her signature stamp onto homes, hotels, restaurants and yachts around the world and in 2000 she designed British Airways’ first class cabins giving it an iconic and classic look.
Nick Hornby is best-known for his novels-turned-films Fever Pitch, High Fidelity and About a Boy, as well as his Oscar-nominated screenplays for Brooklyn and An Education. In 2010, he co-founded Ministry of Stories, a literacy project aimed at mentoring young writers in east London.
From advertising leader to the Vice President of Facebook’s EMEA operations, there’s a reason why Nicola has been named one of the most powerful women in British tech. A passionate force committed to empowering women in the workplace, leading Facebook’s #SheMeansBusiness programme which aims to break down boundaries for female entrepreneurs.
He may have been crowned BBC Young Musician in 2016, but Sheku firmly became a household name after performing at the wedding of HRH Prince Harry and Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle. As one of seven classically-trained siblings, the charismatic cellist is committed to making music education available to everyone.
From selling trainers from the back of a van to building Europe’s largest independent sports retailer, Tom is one of Scotland’s most successful businessmen – but he’s also got heart. Together with his wife Marion, he invests all profits from his business investments committing the majority of their wealth to finding solutions to societal problems.
No stranger to influential power circles, Vivian is one of the most successful women in British business. As managing partner of McKinsey & Company’s UK and Ireland operations, she not only advises organisations from the private, public and social sectors, but also is a passionate advocate for gender and cultural diversity in the workplace.
Charlie Brooker is an award-winning writer, producer and broadcaster whose career has spanned television, radio, print, and online media. He is the writer, co-creator and executive producer of the award-winning anthology series Black Mirror, whose fifth season launched on Netflix in June 2019.
Somewhat of a rock star in the Scottish food industry, entrepreneur Alban has held director-level positions at Warburtons and Kettle Produce. Now, as managing director of Loch Duart – which counts chefs Raymond Blanc and Rick Stein as fans – he is setting the standards for sustainability in the salmon farming business.
Touted as one of the best live acts in the business, the London drum and bass quartet were responsible for the #1 2018 hit These Days. Their latest album, Toast to Our Differences, continues to push the boundaries of conventional pop music, boasting collaborations with the likes of Jess Glynne, Tom Walker and Rita Ora
Anne-Marie was always destined for big things. A former child prodigy, she is now recognised as a tech thought-leader, working with big-hitters from Deutsche Bank, and Monster to Centrica. Her innovative spirit led her to co-found Stemettes, an initiative dedicated to inspiring the next generation of young women into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics sectors.
This husband-and-wife duo are on a mission to revolutionise the milk industry. The Ethical Dairy preaches a more sustainable solution to dairy farming, which results in a 90 per cent reduction in the use of antibiotics, a five-fold increase in biodiversity, and healthier, happier cows that have longer, more productive lives.
The luxury designer is known for his detailed craftsmanship, experimental textiles and vibrant prints, but his style doesn’t just wow on catwalks and the red carpet. The Canadian-born, London-based designer has been commissioned by the Royal Ballet, while his hit collaboration with H&M in 2017 sold out within days of being released.
One of Ireland’s most renowned tycoons, Martin is the man behind multi-million pound domestic appliances empire Glen Dimplex Group – which boasts brands such as Morphy Richards and Roberts Radio. But it’s not all business. His philanthropic work through The Naughton Foundation provides scholarships in the arts and education throughout the Republic of Ireland.
The Queen of Shops with her no-nonsense approach to business helped revamp British high streets, while Mary’s chain of boutique charity shops for Save The Children has raised over £26million. Her latest book, Work Like a Woman, is rooted in kindness and a manifesto for a change in workplace culture.Read about Mary Portas
British dancer Matthew has swiftly risen through the ranks of the Royal Ballet. After joining the Company in 2013, he was named principal dancer – the most eminent position – five years later, aged just 24. The same year, he won critical acclaim for his alluring lead performance in Matthew Bourne’s revival of Swan Lake.
Known for his inimitable ability to enchant both adults and children, the British author is one of the most influential storytellers of his generation. Philip’s most notable work, the epic fantasy triology His Dark Materials, has been hailed as a modern classic – with a big-budget TV adaptation due to air later this year.
What started as a hobby for William and his wife Lucy has turned into a multi-award-winning business. Co-founder of Cambridge Distillery, William’s pioneering spirit helped create a series of world-firsts which have driven premiumisation of the gin industry internationally and elevated the quality benchmark for gin world-wide
At just 26, George is one of the UK’s biggest and brightest male popstars. Having topped the charts with his number one albums Staying at Tamara’s and Wanted on Voyage (which went multi-platinum), tangible proof of his success came this February when he was crowned British Male Solo Artist at the Brit awards.
Duncan Goose, the drinks entrepreneur whose ethical brand has raised over 19 million pounds for some of the world’s most water-deprived communities.
The producer behind Broadway and West End knock-outs, Book of Mormon, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and more, it seems everything Sonia Friedman touches turns to theatre gold.
Chef Michael is no stranger to overcoming adversity. After losing his right arm in a car accident over 20 years ago, he fought his way back into the kitchen and has gone on to earn two coveted Michelin stars. A familiar face on British television, he is also a patron for a number of adoption and amputee charities.
With her distinctive and captivating ethereal vocals, the South Londoner stormed the charts leading Florence + the Machine, releasing four critically-acclaimed, number one albums in the space of just a decade. The band’s latest album, High as Hope, was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize and two Brit Awards.
From Four Weddings and a Funeral to Love Actually, Richard Curtis’ characters have become part of British comedy legend. But he’s also a philanthropic powerhouse. A co-founder of Comic Relief – the flagship partner of British Airways’ Flying Start – he has helped the charity raise over £1billion for projects in the UK and beyond.
Cricketer Joe has gone from strength-to-strength since making his debut for Yorkshire in 2009. After stepping out for England in 2012, he was made captain of the test team just five years later. His lightning strike-rate and ability to stay calm under pressure make him one of the top-ranking batsmen playing today.
As the defending champion of the 2018 Tour De France – and only the third Brit to win the race – Geraint isn’t short of sporting accolades. The Welsh track and road cyclist is a double Olympic Gold medalist, has three UCI World Championships, and was crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2018.
After launching her eponymous label at London Fashion Week in 2012, Emma’s signature hand-drawn prints – inspired by nature, fairy tales and fantasy – caught the eye of stockists at Liberty and Harrods. Now a regular fixture on the international fashion circuit, she has collaborated with brands such as Atelier Swarovski and Aspinal of London.
A figurehead for modern dance music, the Grammy award-winning producer, DJ and songwriter has continually dominated the charts and broken world records with his many hits. With over 23 billion combined audio and video streams, he is one of the most successful artists of all time – and the most-played Scottish artist of the 21st century.
Best known for his popular television series, Springwatch, Chris is a leading naturalist and passionate advocate for modernising wildlife conversation efforts. His acclaimed documentary film, In Search of the Lost Girl, sparked international awareness about the devastating effects of Western world’s use of palm oil on rainforests.
Known for his incredible goal-scoring ability – the striker clocked up 100 goals in the Premier League in just 141 games – Harry is touted as this generation’s Gary Lineker. As England’s youngest ever World Cup captain, he is credited with leading the squad through to the 2018 semi-finals, earning him the coveted Golden Boot award.
Hailed as the founding father of modern haircare, John remains one of Britain’s most iconic figures within the industry. After almost four decades in the business, John has shaped the face of the hair industry, his contributions ranging from breakthrough formulations to common hair concerns, to prestigious salons in London and New York.
A world-leading expert in the causes of melanoma, Richard has played a pivotal role in advancing research into skin cancer. As director of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, his team has pioneered new therapeutic treatment strategies and developed ground-breaking drugs to help fight the deadly disease.
The reigning king of glitter, neon and perfectly peculiar prints, York-based fashion designer Matty Bovan graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2015 with an MA in Fashion Knitwear, only to debut at London Fashion Week the very next year. He’s worked with fashion houses Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu across a subversive career, with Iggy Azalea, Tilda Swinton and Rita Ora counted among his celebrity fans.
Since William Webb Ellis first decided to pick up a ball and run with it during his Warwickshire school days, rugby has captivated the nation and inspired both pride and patriotism on an epic scale. The Red Roses’ many successes include winning the Six Nations Championships on 28 occasions, making it to the final of the last year’s World Cup against New Zealand, not to mention their famous win of the tournament (the only team from the northern hemisphere to do so) back in 2003.
Tamara Lohan is an entrepreneur and technology strategist. In 2002 she co-founded the boutique hotel travel specialists Mr & Mrs Smith with her husband James, and spent over 15 years evolving the company’s digital infrastructure as CTO. In March 2019, Tamara became COO, and now coordinates the strategic growth of the business. Today, Smith operates from offices in London, New York, LA and Singapore, and has more than 1.5 million members worldwide. Tamara was awarded an MBE for services to the British travel industry in 2014 and acts as a mentor for a number of start-up enterprises.