Captain Sir Tom battles Covid after capturing hearts with NHS fundraising

PA

Captain Sir Tom Moore raised millions to support the NHS but now health services are helping him as he battles Covid-19 and pneumonia.

The Second World War veteran won the nation’s hearts as he walked laps of his garden when the country first locked down due to coronavirus, but he is now in Bedford Hospital having tested positive for the disease himself.

His daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore said in a statement on Sunday that the medical care he had received had been “remarkable” and his family knew “the wonderful staff at Bedford Hospital will do all they can to make him comfortable and hopefully return home as soon as possible”.

The grandfather raised a total of £32.7 million after vowing to walk 100 laps of his garden before he turned 100 years old in April 2020.

Captain Sir Tom’s efforts were acknowledged when the Queen’s first official engagement in person after lockdown lifted was to knight him in an outdoor ceremony at Windsor Castle.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sir Tom’s “heroic efforts have lifted the spirits of the entire nation”, the Duke of Cambridge praised him as a “one-man fundraising machine” and he even released a charity single.

His cover of You’ll Never Walk Alone, with singer Michael Ball, reached number one in the charts, making him the oldest artist ever to have a UK number one single.

Coronavirus – Thu Apr 30, 2020
Coronavirus – Thu Apr 30, 2020

A flypast of a Spitfire and a Hurricane marked his 100th birthday, and he was made an honorary colonel.

Speaking about the flypast, Sir Tom said: “I’m one of the few people here who’ve seen Hurricanes and Spitfires flying past in anger.

“Fortunately today they’re all flying peacefully.”

Sir Tom rounded off 2020 with a trip to Barbados with his family, and his fundraising efforts were marked during the New Year drone display in London, as his figure appeared in lights over the O2 Arena.

Sir Tom was born in Keighley, West Yorkshire, on April 30 1920.

He attended Keighley Grammar School and later completed an apprenticeship as a civil engineer before joining the Army.

He enlisted into the eighth battalion of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (8 DWR), an infantry unit that was converted to operate Churchill tanks as part of the Royal Armoured Corps (RAC).

In 1940, he was selected for officer training and rose to the rank of captain, later being posted to 9 DWR in India.

He served and fought in the Arakan in western Burma, since renamed Rakhine State, and went with his regiment to Sumatra after the Japanese surrender.

After the war, he returned to the UK and worked as an instructor at the Armoured Fighting Vehicle School in Bovington, Dorset.

A mural of Captain Sir Tom Moore on a building in Southport (Peter Byrne/PA)
A mural of Captain Sir Tom Moore on a building in Southport (Peter Byrne/PA)

He previously made a foray into television when he appeared on gameshow Blankety Blank, hosted by Terry Wogan, in 1983.

He lived in Kent for many years before moving to Bedfordshire to be with his family in 2007.

Sir Tom suffered a broken hip in 2018 and also required treatment for skin cancer of the head.

His family said this inspired him to do something to help the NHS, and he decided to walk 100 laps of his garden in Marston Moretaine before his 100th birthday.

A long list of celebrities praised his efforts, including David Walliams, Sir Mo Farah, Lewis Hamilton and Gary Lineker, along with politicians and royals including Health Secretary Matt Hancock and the Duke of Sussex.

Capt Sir Tom was the guest of honour at the opening of the NHS Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and the Humber in Harrogate, set up to help with increased numbers of hospital admissions during the pandemic, and he appeared by video link.

He was sent more than 140,000 100th birthday cards, including a signed card from the Queen, and a dedicated sorting office was set up at his grandson’s school.

Coronavirus – Mon Apr 27, 2020
Coronavirus – Mon Apr 27, 2020

A train was named after him, he was awarded the Freedom of the City of London, and the postbox outside his village Post Office was painted NHS blue in honour of his efforts.

Capt Sir Tom, a cricket fan, was also made an honorary member of the England cricket team.

“People keep saying what I have done is remarkable, however it’s actually what you have done for me which is remarkable,” he said at the time.

Just received a rather special birthday card from Her Majesty The Queen @RoyalFamilypic.twitter.com/jqIxpVFBRH

— Captain Tom Moore (@captaintommoore) April 30, 2020

“The past three weeks have put a spring back in my step.

“I have renewed purpose and have thoroughly enjoyed every second of this exciting adventure.”

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