Not long after the news media began to tell us about the impact of the Coronavirus pressures on the staff of the NHS, there was a feature about an elderly man who was hoping to raise £1,000 to donate to NHS charities in their honour. Known as Captain Tom Moore, he was a 99 year-old retired man who had served as an Army Captain in WW2, with the famous ‘Forgotten Fourteenth’ Army in Burma. With limited mobility now, and using a wheeled walking frame, he was determined to walk one hundred circuits of his garden, before his 100th birthday.
Using a donation page set up by his family, he quickly raised that money, and much more besides. So much more, that he decided to keep on walking until the actual day of his 100th birthday.
By the time that day dawned, he had raised over £30 MILLION pounds!
That huge amount overloaded the system of the company managing the donations, and forced them to hire extra staff. It is the largest donation ever raised by one person in the history of the organisation, and the largest ever donation to one single charity.
Tom became an overnight celebrity. He made numerous TV appearances, topped every news headline, and received so many cards that his local post office could not cope with the deliveries. His story was taken up all around the world, with foreign TV crews making the trip to his home to report it. He even opened one of the new Nightingale Hospitals, by remote video link, and was made an Honorary Colonel of his old regiment, The Yorkshire Regiment. He also received a ‘Pride of Britain’ award, along with personal messages from the Queen, and other members of the Royal family
In every respect, he became the man whose face embodied the fighting spirit of Britain, as it faced this incurable pandemic. People began to clamour for him to receive official recognition. A petition was started to urge the government to award him a Knighthood. Even I signed it, and I rarely sign such things.
On his 100th birthday, he also celebrated another achievement. A recording he had made with singer Michael Ball went to number one in the record charts, giving Tom the distinction of becoming the oldest person to ever top any record chart. The song was ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone”.
Today’s news is that he is to be awarded a knighthood.
He will now be Sir Thomas Moore.
Never has anyone deserved a title more than him.
There is an old old saying, “They don’t make them like him anymore”.
How true, in his case.
Congratulations, Sir Tom.