Captain Tom Moore’s incredible story has been one of the few bright spots in the world as of late. Tom is a World War II veteran who wanted to give back to Britain’s NHS as thanks for saving his life during his battle with cancer. He came up with a creative idea for a fundraiser.
“The initial plan was to do 100 laps of his garden, at 50 meters a time, before his hundredth birthday,” his website explains.
He smashed his initial goal of £1,000 on April 10. The next day, he smashed his next target of £100,000. Tom was blown away by the response his earnest campaign was receiving. By April 14, Tom had raised £1 million.
Tom was getting recognized from just about every Brit out there. Prince William and Kate Middleton were asked about Captain Tom during their appearance on BBC Breakfast. “He’s a one-man fundraising machine,” William joked.
That would have been an incredible feat in itself, but Captain Tom didn’t stop there. He continued raising money for NHS as people became captivated with his story. In total, he raised £32,795,520 from over 1 million contributors.
On April 30, Captain Tom celebrated his 100th birthday. An outpouring of love for him came from people around the world. The Royal Air Force performed an incredible flyover over the veteran’s house to mark the occasion.
“This event has been amazing for us, helping us get through the lockdown,” Tom’s grandson, Benjie Ingram-Moore, told ABC News. “My parents have 20,000 emails to reply to — we haven’t been off our laptops!”
The most special honor came from Queen Elizabeth. She sent Tom a “rather special” personal letter. She also gave Tom an honorary promotion to colonel.
“I’m delighted that Capt Tom Moore has agreed to be Honorary Colonel of AFC Harrogate where our youngest soldiers are trained and educated,” the British Army’s chief of staff said.
“He is an inspiration and role-model to generations and this deserved promotion is applauded across all ranks. Happy 100th Birthday Colonel Tom.”
On May 20, Captain Tom added another honor to the many he’s received. The 100-year-old was approved to be knighted by Queen Elizabeth. His official title will be Captain Sir Thomas Moore under the Ministry of Defence protocol.
Boris Johnson sang the veteran’s praises for being “a beacon of light through the fog” of the current health crisis.
“On behalf of everyone who has been moved by his incredible story, I want to say a huge thank you. He’s a true national treasure.”
“I’m still Tom Moore,” Tom told Good Morning America in reaction to the news. “I mean, it’s nice. It’s nice, I think Sir Thomas sounds very nice, but inside I haven’t changed. Nothing’s changed inside.”
While he’s overwhelmed by the news, he still has his sense of humor about it. He joked he might have some trouble getting down on one knee when the time to be knighted came.
“Because if I get down I can’t get up … Maybe the queen will reach out her hand to give me a hand,” he said.
“I am absolutely overwhelmed. Never for one moment could I have imagined I would be awarded with such a great honour. I’d like to thank Her Majesty The Queen, the Prime Minister and the Great British public. I will remain at your service,” Tom publicly replied to the news.
“This started as something small and I’ve been overwhelmed by the gratitude and love from the British public and beyond. We must take this opportunity to recognise our frontline heroes of the National Health Service who put their lives at risk every day to keep us safe.’“
Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, also shared congratulations for Tom. He said, “On behalf of @UKLabour, I congratulate Captain Tom Moore on his knighthood,” he tweeted. “In these difficult times for our country, Tom brought inspiration to millions and helped all of us to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of our NHS.”
Tom told The Times he’d like to travel when the pandemic has passed. “I would like to go back to India again and Barbados I think, and maybe the Continent. Being realistic I don’t think I will get to all the places. But I would love to travel on Route 66 in America.”
US ambassador to the UK Woody Johnson said that Tom would be more than welcome. “Capt Moore says he wants to drive Route 66,” he tweeted.
“Great idea! He will receive a hero’s welcome in the U.S. for raising $40 million and counting.”
Captain Tom has inspired so many, and it’s equally inspiring to think of all the places he wants to take that story next. He deserves every bit of this praise.