Captain Sir Tom Moore’s funeral will be held on Saturday, following his death at the age of 100, with his family urging people to support the NHS by staying at home.
Second World War veteran Sir Tom captured the hearts of the nation with his fundraising efforts during the first lockdown, when he walked 100 laps of his Bedfordshire garden before his 100th birthday, raising more than £32 million for the NHS.
He died at Bedford Hospital on February 2 after testing positive for Covid-19.
In a statement, his daughters Lucy Teixeira and Hannah Ingram-Moore said the service would be a “small family funeral” due to the pandemic.
They said: “Over the past year our father spoke openly about his death and his funeral, and had wondered out loud if perhaps the interest in him over the last 12 months would mean we would need to have more Victoria sponge cakes available for the extra guests.
“Sadly, like so many other families affected by the pandemic, we have no choice but to hold a small family funeral, which will take place this Saturday.
“Whilst we understand so many people wish to pay their respects to our father, we ask that the public and the press continue to support the NHS by staying at home.
“We have been contacted by so many people asking what they can do to honour our father, so we have set up an online book of condolence.
“People can also donate to The Captain Tom Foundation, plant a tree in his memory or donate to a charity of your choice.”
In line with current restrictions, the funeral will be attended by eight members of Sir Tom’s immediate family – his two daughters, four grandchildren and his sons-in-law.
Once Covid-19 restrictions permit, the family will inter Sir Tom’s ashes in Yorkshire, with his parents and grandparents in the Moore family plot.
His daughters continued: “In the last few months of his life, our father had spent many enjoyable hours writing a book he chose to call Captain Tom’s Life Lessons, which he planned to release just before his 101st birthday.
“Sadly, he’ll never get to share this with you personally.
“The final chapter is so poignant and reading it brings us so much comfort and warmth, so we share the last chapter now as a thank you, from our father Tom and us as a family, for the love and kindness the nation and the world have shown him.”
In the chapter, Sir Tom writes: “Previously, my funeral would have made one little line in the local newspaper and been attended by only a handful of people, but I expect there’ll be a few more now.
“Someone will have to make extra cake and sandwiches, and it won’t be me.
“I want the service to end with My Way by Frank Sinatra because I always did things my way and especially like the line about having too few regrets to mention.
“It’s odd and rather touching to think that people might weep over my passing – strangers I’ve never even met.
“If I can, I’d like to watch my own funeral from a distance.
“That would be quite the joke as I looked down and chuckled at everyone making a lot of fuss over me.”
He said he wished to be cremated and for his ashes to be taken to Yorkshire, but would not mind a “little white headstone somewhere to mark my existence, a bit like the ones they have in military cemeteries”.
He said for his epitaph he would ask for the “simple inscription of my name, the dates of my earthly span, and the words: ‘I told you I was old’” – in reference to comedian Spike Milligan’s famous epitaph “I told you I was ill”.