Captain Tom Moore, 100, “Overawed” By News of Knighthood for NHS Fundraising
British war hero Captain Tom Moore inspired people around the world by walking around his garden to raise millions for charity at age 99. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images
Captain Tom Moore, the 100-year-old British War veteran who raised more than £32 million (more than $54 million Canadian) for his country’s National Health Service workers on the frontlines of England’s COVID-19 response, will soon add “Sir” to his name.
The centenarian, who completed 100 laps of his garden ahead of his 100th birthday in April to raise the funds, told the BBC he was “overawed” to learn that he would receive his knighthood.
“I thought this can’t be true, I’ve always said this won’t happen and it appears it actually has,” Tom Moore told the BBC of his reaction to the news. “I certainly never anticipated that this letter would arrive for me. I certainly feel I’ve been given an outstanding honour by the Queen and Prime Minister.”
Moore was also given the honorary title of colonel on his 100th birthday in recognition of his fundraising efforts.
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said he was “delighted the army honoured him in such a fitting manner.”
“He not only embodies the spirit of our incredible veteran community, but the resolve of this nation,” he told the Guardian.
Prime Minister Borris Johnson, who nominated Moore for this latest honour, called him a “beacon of light through the fog of the coronavirus.”
Despite the new honour, Captain Sir Thomas Moore, as he’ll soon be called, isn’t resting on his laurels. He’s now shifted his philanthropic efforts to the creation of a loneliness foundation, which will aim to help fellow seniors experiencing isolation during the pandemic.
“I think loneliness is something we have to look at very carefully,” Moore told the BBC.
As for his knighting, he says he’s not sure when he’ll receive the honour, but hopes the Queen “is not very heavy-handed with the sword, as by then I might be a rather poor old weak soul.”
Captain Tom Moore Turns 100 With a Message From the Queen and Birthday Wishes from Around the Globe
Captain Tom Moore is officially a centenarian. The British war veteran, who gained worldwide acclaim in the last month for raising millions of dollars for his country’s National Health Service (NHS) Charities Together group — which supports frontline medical workers — by walking 100 laps around his garden with his walker, reached the 100 year milestone on Thursday. He’d originally set out to raise £1,000 for the NHS before his efforts attracted the attention of the British press and went viral on social media. By the morning of his birthday, he’d raised £31 million (more than $54 million Canadian).
“It doesn’t feel any different to yesterday. I don’t know what you’re meant to feel like when you get to be 100. I’ve never been 100 before so I really can’t tell you what difference it is from yesterday to today or maybe tomorrow,” Captain Tom said when asked about the milestone on BBC Breakfast this morning. “But I must say I’m delighted with all the people like you, who’ve come to wish me a many happy birthday. It’s really absolutely awesome the amount of people who’ve been so kind to make those remarks. Thank you all very much.”
Thanks to his selfless fundraising efforts and loveable personality, Captain Tom has become a worldwide symbol of strength, bravery and selflessness amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “Tens of thousands” of birthday cards arrived from around the world, according to CNN — so many, that officials needed to use a large school hall to sort and display them.
And on the morning of his special day, Captain Tom received a very special birthday card from Queen Elizabeth II herself, delivered, as the Royal Family Instagram account notes, by “the Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, The Queen’s personal representative in the county.” The monarch wrote in the card that she’s, “so pleased to know that you are celebrating your one hundredth birthday. I was also most interested to hear of your recent fundraising efforts for NHS Charities Together at this difficult time. I send my congratulations and best wishes to you on such a special occasion. Elizabeth R.”
The Queen also promoted Captain Tom to an Honorary Colonel, with a tweet from Britain’s Ministry of Defence adding that Tom is “the first Honorary Colonel of the Army Foundation College Harrogate” and “His mature wisdom, no-nonsense attitude and humour in adversity make him an inspirational role model to generations young and old.” As well, the decorated war veteran received multiple “flypasts” over his home, including by Second World War-era Spitfire and Hurricane planes (which you can see in the video below).
Clarence House, meanwhile, released a social media statement wishing Captain Tom a happy birthday on behalf of Prince Charles and Camilla, adding, “That wonderful man, Captain Tom, walking around and raising all that money – that sort of thing makes you proud to be British, doesn’t it.” The statement was accompanied by a video of the Duchess of Cornwall discussing Captain Tom’s efforts.
And British Prime Minister Boris Johnson passed along his birthday wishes, saying “Your heroic efforts have lifted the spirits of the entire nation. You’ve created a channel to enable millions to say a heartfelt thank you to the remarkable men and women in our NHS who are doing the most astounding job.” He finished by noting that Captain Tom is, “a point of light in all our lives.”
All of this, of course, is in addition to the numerous veterans, entertainers, athletes, politicians and admirers flooding Captain Tom’s Twitter feed with birthday messages as the beloved hero reportedly spends the day isolating with his daughter and her family.
“It is quite extraordinary that I am turning 100. It is even more extraordinary that I am doing so with this many well-wishers and I am in awe at the response my walking has had,” Captain Tom said in a statement on Twitter.. “To everyone who has donated, sent birthday cards and messages, sincerely thank you. Please stay home, stay safe. Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day.”
Read Zoomer’s original profile of Captain Tom below…
Capt. Tom Moore is a hero of our time. Of course, he was already a hero as a former Second World War British Army officer who fought in India and Burma and earned three medals for his service.
But in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic — a virus that’s deadlier to seniors than any other age group — the 99-year-old emerged from his home in Bedfordshire, England, grabbed his walker and started doing laps around the garden. Ten laps a day for 10 days was the goal — 100 laps in total to raise £1,000 for the National Health Service (NHS) Charities Together group, which supports frontline medical workers, before his 100th birthday on April 30.
Captain Tom took his first humble step on April 6 and completed his 100th lap 10 days later on April 16, flanked by a guard of honour from soldiers from the Yorkshire Regiment’s First Battalion.
His efforts caught the attention of the British press and went viral on social media, helping the soon-to-be centenarian raise more than £27 million (more than $47 million Canadian) to date, including an undisclosed sum from Prince William himself. The future king also praised Captain Tom during a recent interview he and the Duchess of Cambridge did with BBC Breakfast.
Meanwhile, Prince Harry, himself a veteran who achieved the rank of captain in the British Army, hailed Captain Tom as “utterly amazing,” and hundreds of thousands of admirers are calling for him to receive a knighthood.
But the admiration for Captain Tom goes beyond his fundraising efforts. There’s a deeper connection, especially at a time of global fear and uncertainty.
Here’s a man who stepped out into a world overrun with a deadly virus for which he, at age 99, is in the most dangerous of danger zones. And he started walking — not into the street as a reckless rebuke of social distancing measures or to the store to hoard toilet paper and other supplies. Instead, he began walking for others. He walked to say thank you to our other heroes — frontline workers — and raise money to support the men and women of the NHS, who helped him in recent years during both a battle with skin cancer and a broken hip. And now that he has reached his goal in unprecedented fashion, he’s ready to do it all again, suggesting he might take 100 more spins around the garden.
Captain Tom, with his tireless drive and indefatigable positivity, offers a living example of how even the smallest acts of kindness in a time of crisis have ripple effects that multiply and make a huge impact. As well, in a time like a global pandemic, we just need someone to reassure us that there’s still happiness and selflessness and joy in the world. If a 99-year-old man hunched over a walker can split the darkness to bring happiness and strength and positivity into the world, there’s hope for rest of us.
Super Seniors (and a Six-Year-Old) Following in Captain Tom’s Footsteps
The ripple effects of Captain Tom’s work go beyond the money he has raised. He’s also rousing others to selflessness and charity and to challenge themselves physically. Among the countless people around the world he has inspired is Win Page, a 99-year-old Manchester woman who has already raised thousands of dollars after pledging to walk her driveway 100 times before turning 100 on April 28.
“Captain Tom has been such an inspiration,” she told the Manchester Evening News. “He’s actually two days younger than me, so I thought if he can do it, so can I. The NHS has been so good to me all my life, and I wanted to give something back.”
In Scotland, meanwhile, Captain Tom inspired 90-year-old Margaret Payne to climb Suilven mountain. Well, sort of. The nonagenarian plans to climb the stairs in her home 282 times — the equivalent of climbing the height of the highland mountain, which she climbed for real in 1944 when she was 15. She has already surpassed her target of raising £10,000 for the NHS and estimates she has almost two months to go before completing her challenge.
Over in Ceredigion, Wales, Rhythwyn Evans, a 91-year-old farmer, gave a nod to Captain Tom by completing 91 laps around his home to raise money for the NHS.
And in Bristol, a six-year-old boy named Frank Mills, who has spina bifida and just learned to walk a year-and-a-half ago, took inspiration from Captain Tom to start his own charity walk. According to the BBC, the boy, who hoped to raise £99 for NHS Charities Together by walking 10 metres with his walker, instead raised £93 thousand — in one day.
In fact, people around the world are reaching to Captain Tom via his recently launched Twitter account to express their admiration for how he has inspired them.
Ground Control to Captain Tom
It’s no surprise, then, that Captain Tom has become something of a celebrity in his own right.
A charity recording of the Rodgers and Hammerstein tune “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel that he made with British actor and singer Michael Ball and members of the NHS Voices of Care Choir topped the U.K.’s Big Top 40 chart. The achievement prompted congratulatory messages, including from rock legend Elton John, who posted a photo of Captain Tom on his Instagram account and wrote, “Congratulations on your Number 1 record. For a 99 year old that’s not too shabby!!”
Captain Tom also topped the iTunes charts, bumping another charity single — a duet of the song “We’ll Meet Again” by 103-year-old Dame Vera Lynn and mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins — to second place. Captain Tom actually apologized for knocking Lynn from the top spot and noted how Lynn’s songs in support of British troops during the Second World War lifted his spirits during his time as a solider. Lynn, it turns out, wrote Captain Tom a letter thanking him for his most recent charitable accomplishments.
Meanwhile, Captain Tom appeared via video to help open a new British hospital and received invitations to visit with various sports teams post-COVID-19, including the headquarters of McLaren Racing — a particular thrill for the longtime FI racing fan.
Lando Norris, a McLaren champion driver, called the 99-year-old and told him, “It’s my honour that I get to speak to people like you, Captain Tom. You’ve achieved things that very few people get to achieve ever in their lifetime, especially at 99 years old and coming on to 100 – that’s another big achievement.”
Graffiti artist Ruddy Muddy created a mural of Captain Tom on the back of a van; other artists are immortalizing him in their work; a bus company in the nonagenarian’s birthplace of Keighley named a bus after him; and a 10-year-old British boy was even inspired to write a poem about him. It starts:
“His fight today is against COVID-19
He’s taken to becoming a walking machine
So round his garden, he completes a hundred laps
Determined to let nothing stop him in his tracks.”
Captain Tom, meanwhile, sent Queen Elizabeth II birthday wishes as she celebrated her 94th on April 21, while his own local post office says more than 25,000 birthday cards have already arrived for him ahead of his centenary on April 30. In fact, the BBC reports that the mail centre where the letters continue to flood in “has adapted equipment to deal with the number of cards. Staff have re-programmed sorting machines to re-route his mail into a dedicated collection box” and adds that the Royal Mail will use a “special postmark wishing Captain Tom a happy 100th birthday” across the U.K. beginning next week. As well, a group in Britain that restores aircraft plan to fly a Spitfire plane — a type of fighter plane used by the British in the Second World War — past Captain Tom’s house on the big day.
As for Captain Tom’s personal birthday bash, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on hopes of an in-person get together. He tells the BBC, however, “that the national outpouring of love and support for him was ‘a party enough for me.’”
And let’s face it — at age 100, after recording hit songs, raising millions for charity, becoming a global inspiration and fielding numerous post-pandemic invites and a possible call to knighthood in the near future, Captain Tom has earned himself a day off.