During the Coronavirus pandemic, one man has become the hero of heroes.
British war veteran Tom Moore is 99 years old—turning 100 on 30 April 2020. He has just raised more than 28 million pounds for the National Health Service (NHS), through NHS Charities Together, to support their efforts during the 2019-2020 Coronavirus emergency. Across the United Kingdom, about 20,000 people, who have been hospitalized, have died from Covid-19.
To raise money, Tom—known as Captain Tom (and often confused with David Bowie’s Major Tom)—decided to complete 100 laps of his garden with his walking frame.
His aim was to raise 1,000 pounds before his 100th birthday—so he set himself three weeks to do it.
The patch of garden is a bricked pavement of 25 metres in length in his family’s garden in Bedfordshire, England.
He completed the 100 laps on Thursday 16 April in just over a week. He over-achieved his target by 28,000 times as the nation rallied behind him. He plans to continue walking as long as people continue donating to his appeal. The donations will pay for care packs for NHS staff, electronic devices for quarantined patients to keep in touch with family members, and support groups for those recovering from Covid-19.
People around the country called for the government to knight him for his amazing achievement. Number 10 Downing Street said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will ‘certainly be looking at ways to recognize Tom for his heroic efforts … From his military contributions to his support for NHS staff, Tom has demonstrated a lifetime of bravery and compassion.’
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News that Captain Moore is a ‘tremendous gentleman.’ Schapps added, ‘He really truly is a British champion and I think he has given people a sense of hope, that somebody who has seen so much, and been through so much, can take such a positive attitude.’
Tom was heralded as a gentleman that has been the salvation of the nation in difficult times.
Tom Moore was born on 30 April 1920 in Keighley in West Yorkshire in England. He trained as a civil engineer before joining the army for the Second World War (1939-1945). At nineteen, he served in India and Burma (Myanmar), rising to the position of captain.
Not only has he raised money for NHS, he also has a Number 1 music record hit. All before he turned 100 years old.
British singer Michael Ball had the idea of making a record with Tom Moore, with You’ll Never Walk Alone. And he wanted Tom to have a Number 1 hit single on the record charts.
Michael Ball has several Number 1 albums, but he had never had a Number 1 single—until his duet with Tom Moore. Due to the Cornavirus quarantine order, the duet was recorded in different locations by video link, featuring the NHS Voices for Care Choir. Michael Ball called the shared track ‘one of the proudest moments of my career.’ Proceeds from the record will also go to NHS for the Coronavirus emergency.
To reach Number 1, Tom was in competition with Canadian singer The Weeknd, with his single Blinding Light. Just 24 hours before the final count, The Weeknd—whose real name is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye—urged his UK fans to support Tom. The 30-year-old Weeknd wrote a call for support for Tom on his Twitter page. Official figures showed that eventually You’ll Never Walk Alone beatBlinding Lightby about 13,000 sales and streams.
Captain Tom also knocked Dame Vera Lynn and Katherine Jenkin’s song We’ll Meet Againoff Number 1 spot on the UK iTunes chart, putting them in second place. The song was compiled after the Queen mentioned the song in her address to the nation on 5 April to support the Coronavirus emergency. The Queen said at the end of her speech, ‘We will be with our friends again, we will be with our families again, we will meet again’ as a response to the government’s quarantine and social distancing measures to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus. We’ll Meet Againwas a Second World War song, penned by English songwriters Ross Parker and Hugh Charles in 1939 and recorded by Vera Lynn in 1942.
Captain Tom Moore is the oldest person in the United Kingdom to have a Number 1 hit single, and the first centarian. He beat Vera Lynn as the oldest person to have a Number 1 hit. She had a Number 1 album hit. We’ll Meet Againwas recorded in 2009 in the album We’ll Meet Again–The Very Best of Vera Lynn, to coincide with the 70-year anniversary of the declaration of the Second World War.
You’ll Never Walk Alone, which is from the 1945 Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein musical ‘Carousel’ has become an anthem for medical staff during the Coronavirus pandemic. The new version by Ball and Moore features an introduction from Captain Moore, who speaks some of the lyrics from the song:
‘When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark. At the end of a storm there’s a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark.’ The song ends with ‘walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone.’
Addendum: On Tom Moore’s 100th birthday on 30 April 2020, the Chief of the General Staff, Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, promoted Captain Tom to the rank of honorary colonel of the Army Foundation College, which was approved by the Queen. In honour of Colonel Tom, the day was marked with a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flypast by a Spitfire and a Hurricane above his Bedfordshire home, where his is still self isolating to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.