Words by Joel Renouf-Cooke
Second World War Veteran and subsequent national hero Captain Sir Tom Moore has died aged 100. The Centenarian, who would have turned 101 this April, was admitted to Bedford Hospital after testing positive for COVID-19 on 31 January, where he was also receiving treatment for pneumonia and passed away on 2 February, his family have confirmed. Captain Tom gained worldwide attention during the first National Lockdown in April 2020 after starting a fundraising campaign for NHS Charities Together, a collection of charitable organizations supporting staff, patients and volunteers who work within and rely on the NHS.
His aim, which coincided with his 100th birthday, was to walk 100 25-metre lengths of his Bedfordshire garden. The effort garnered international support as media coverage of the endeavor, branded “Tom’s Birthday walk for the NHS” increased. After reaching the initial goal of £1000 the target was increased to £5000 before eventually being raised to £500,000 and increasing exponentially as news of his endeavor spread internationally, peaking finally at around £30 million on the morning of his birthday. Speaking as donations topped the £1m mark, Captain Tom praised the work being done by the NHS, telling the BBC, “When you think of who it is all for – all those brave and super doctors and nurses we have got – I think they deserve every penny, and I hope we get some more for them too.” After completing the fundraiser and securing his place in the hearts and minds of the British public, Tom was awarded a knighthood by the Queen on 17 July in recognition of his services to the NHS and in response to overwhelming support from the public. A petition started to get Captain Tom a knighthood received over a million supporters.
To mark Captain Tom’s 100th length, singer Michael Ball sang “You’ll never walk alone” which featured Tom’s spoken words and the NHS Voices of Care Choir which topped the charts on 24 April making Moore, who was at number 1 on his 100th birthday, the oldest person to achieve that accolade. Since his passing on Tuesday, tributes to the late Captain have poured in from across the globe. MP Caroline Lucas called Moore a “Beacon of hope and inspiration – and a doughty champion of the NHS”. Actor Kevin Bacon also praised Captain Moore’s heroism, “He led by example, showing up for others when they needed him most. He lived an incredible life and will be so missed.” BBC Radio 5 Live host Nicky Campbell also paid respects to Captain Tom “He really won’t be forgotten. When historians write about this dark hour, Captain Tom Moore will be there. A symbol. An inspiration. A phenomenon. He showed what we can be. He was the best of us.”
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced that he will be leading a “national clap” to honour Captain Sir Tom Moore at 6pm on 3 February whom the PM says, “inspired the best in us all ”. Meanwhile Labour leader Keir Starmer has welcomed the announcement, saying Captain Sir Tom “Embodied the spirit of Britain”.
Captain Sir Tom Moore will be remembered for his selflessness, his inspiration and his immense achievements despite his age. On reaching £5 million last year, Moore explained his motivation – praising the NHS he said, “They’re all so brave. Because every morning or every night they’re putting themselves into harm’s way, and I think you’ve got to give them full marks for that effort. We’re a little bit like having a war at the moment. But the doctors and the nurses, they’re all on the front line, and all of us behind, we’ve got to supply them and keep them going with everything that they need, so that they can do their jobs even better than they’re doing now.”