London (AFP) – Captain Tom Moore, a veteran WWII warrior who entered the hearts of a besieged nation as he roamed his lawn to raise money for healthcare workers, has died after testing positive for COVID-19. He was 100 years old.
His family announced his death on Twitter, and posted a picture of him walking behind him in a happy moment, ready for an adventure.
“The last year of our father’s life was wonderful.” The family statement said, “He was rejuvenated and fought in things he had only dreamed of.” While he was in many hearts for only a short time, he was a wonderful father and grandfather, and he will forever live in our hearts. ”
Captain Tom, as he became known in the headlines and television interviews, set out to raise £ 1,000 for the National Health Service in Britain by walking 100 laps in his backyard. But his quest spread widely and captivated the imaginations of millions stuck in their homes during the first wave of the pandemic. Donations poured in from across Britain and as far away as the United States and Japan, raising about 33 million pounds ($ 40 million).
For three weeks in April, fans were greeted with daily videos of Captain Tom, as he slipped with age, pushing his walk tenaciously into the park. But it was his sunny stance during a dark moment that inspired people to look beyond sickness and loss.
“Please always remember, tomorrow is going to be a good day,” Moore said in an interview while walking, and uttered the words that would become his trademark.
When Captain Tom finished his 100th lap on April 16, a military honor guard lined the road. His birthday celebration continued a few days later, when two WWII-era fighter planes flew overhead in his honor. Moore, a blanket carved across his shoulders, squeezed his fists as they passed.
In July, Queen Elizabeth II awarded him a Knight at a Social Distant ceremony at Windsor Castle, west London. The 94-year-old king used an impossibly long sword to bestow honor as Moore, wears his wartime medals on his chest, leans on his walk, fires and becomes Sir Tom.
After the ceremony, he tweeted, “I have been inundated with the many honors I have received over the past weeks, but there is nothing that can compare to this.” “I am steeped in pride and joy.”
Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth II is planning to send a special message of condolence to the family.
“Her Majesty the Queen very much enjoyed meeting Captain Sir Tom and his family in Windsor last year,” the palace said in a statement. “Her thoughts and those of the royal family are with them, in recognition of the inspiration he has given to the entire nation and others around the world.”
The flags were lowered into Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office in Downing Street. The British leader described Moore as a “hero in the true sense of the word”.
Moore was born in Kelly, West Yorkshire, on April 30, 1920, and completed his professional training in civil engineering before being drafted into the army during the first months of World War II. After being selected to train officers, he was promoted to captain while serving in India, Burma and Sumatra.
After leaving the army in 1946, Moore went to work for the family building company. After this failure, he became a salesman and then a manager of building materials companies. When his concrete company was threatened with closure, Moore raised and bought a group of investors, and kept 60 jobs.
Along the way, he divorces his first wife and falls in love with Pamela, the employer’s office manager. The couple married, had two daughters, and eventually retired to Spain, but returned to England after Pamela Moore fell ill.
After the death of his wife in 2006, Moore moved to Marston Moretten in Bedfordshire to live with his youngest daughter Hannah and her family.
The former motorcycle racer slowed down at the age of 98 after falling and breaking his hip in 2018. A pedestrian replaced his Skoda Yeti, but kept moving.
During a backyard barbecue in early April last year, the Moore family challenged him to walk along the 25-meter (82-foot) trail. After he reached the end, his son-in-law encouraged him to continue, offering to pay 1 pound per lap and suggesting a goal of 100 laps by Moore’s 100th birthday.
The challenge doubled from there.
Moore thought he might be able to raise £ 1,000 ($ 1,363) for the doctors and nurses who took care of him after he broke a thigh, and his family used social media to post “Captain Tom Moore’s 100th Birthday March for the NHS”. Contact a local radio reporter first, then call the national broadcasters. Soon the international media waited outside the park gate.
As he pushed his walk up and down the park path, people facing the UK’s first lockdown of the pandemic watched online. Soon, #TomorrowWillBeAGoodDay was trending on Twitter.
In his autobiography, Moore wrote: “People have told me that there was something in my young career that captured the hearts of those still in shock from the crisis.” “With the death toll rising and the prospect of months of lockdown, everyone was desperate for the good news. Apparently, a 99-year-old former Army captain who fought in Burma, was recovering from a thigh fracture, was doing his part for the NHS. They need it. “
Prince Harry, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and dozens of celebrities cheered him.
But it was the public who embraced Captain Tom, and flooded the village post office with about 6,000 gifts and 140,000 birthday cards. Moore marveled that anyone would spend two pounds ($ 2.74) on a card for him, then wear a mask to wait in line at the post office to mail him.
He was named an honorary member of the England cricket team, named a train after him, and was awarded the Freedom of the City of London.
Moore enjoyed the awards but remained focused on others.
He dedicated his autobiography, Tomorrow Will Be a Happy Day, to “all those serving on the front lines in any battle – be it military, psychological, or medical.”
In the end, Captain Tom urged the public to look after each other, and thanked the country that had inspired him for their inspiration.
“I felt a little frustrated and disappointed after it broke my thigh and raised my confidence,” he said after completing his journey. “However, I’ve made the last three weeks back in my footsteps. I’ve renewed my goal and completely enjoyed every second of this exciting adventure, but I can’t just walk forever.”