Rest in peace, Captain Tom.
Through the darkest early days of the coronavirus pandemics, UK spirits were lifted by the incredible fundraising efforts of Captain Sir Tom Moore, the then 99-year old World War II veteran who raised an unbelievable £33 million for NHS charities by walking laps of his garden. Quickly ascending to the status of national hero, Captain Tom became a symbol of resilience, determination, and charity that encouraged us all. Today, the unassuming figurehead has passed away, aged 100.
Tom was born and brought up in Keighley, Yorkshire, and was later enlisted in 8 DWR (the eight battalion of the Duke of Welington’s Regiment) at the beginning of the war, and was selected for Officer training in 1940. He was later posted to 9DWR in India, and served and fought on the Arakan. Despite his record of military service, Captain Tom’s fame wouldn’t begin for many years – in fact, not until April 2020.
Captain Tom’s rise to fame was as inspiring as it was rapid; at the start of April, he began a fundraising drive with a humble goal – to raise £1000 for NHS charities by walking 100 laps of his garden, all before his 100th birthday. News of his efforts spread swiftly, and before the end of his first week of walking, he’d raised £12 million in donations. By the time Captain Tom finally finished walking (having long since passed 100 laps), the fundraiser stood at a whopping £33 million.
The accolades for his heroic perambulation were swift, with a Pride of Britain award, 135,000 birthday cards, an hourly tribute at Piccadilly Circus, and, most notably, a knighthood from HRH Queen Elizabeth II following. His landmark 100th birthday was marked with a military flyover, and even after completing his laps, he raised even more money for charity with a charity single and a London dry gin. After returning from a well-earned holiday in Barbados with his family, Captain Tom was admitted to hospital on Sunday, after suffering from pneumonia and more recently testing positive for Covid-19. Sadly, he lost his battle with the virus earlier today.
Though Captain Tom will now be laid to rest, it’s safe to say that his memory – and the staggering acts of charity he achieved in the space of under a year – will not be forgotten. Truly, we can say that his was a life incredibly well-lived. Our thoughts are with his friends and family today.