What inspires someone to become a scientist and what do scientists remember most about their training? How important is formal education compared to things they did in their spare time? What roles did teachers, parents and mentors play? For some of our interviewees the impetus to become a scientist came from inspiring individuals who introduced them to a new and exciting world of science. Good school teachers were those who encouraged experimentation and controlled risk taking. School field trips could also open up new possibilities. Parents, even those not particularly inclined to foster scientific ambitions, helped by leading trips to museums such as the Science Museum and exhibitions including the Festival of Britain. Once enrolled on university courses or apprenticeship schemes the quality of teaching and support had a profoundimpact on later decisions to specialise.