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How Captain Tom became a national treasure fundraising for the NHS

How Captain Tom became a national treasure: War hero was thrust into the global spotlight, aged 99, after his offer to walk 100 laps of his garden for the NHS captured the nation’s imagination – and raised £33m

  • Captain Tom Moore set out to walk 100 laps of his garden for his 100th birthday
  • He hoped to raise £500,000 for the NHS but his campaign captured the nation
  • After attracting media attention he hit his target of half a million after six days
  • Interviews with Piers Morgan and the BBC pushed total over £2million in hours
  • Two weeks later he had raised £33million and became a national treasure, reaching No1 in the music charts and being knighted by The Queen
  • Captain Sir Tom has now died after contracting coronavirus at the age of 100

Less than a year after he won over the nation’s hearts by raising millions of pounds for the NHS, Captain Sir Tom Moore has died from the very virus he inspired people to rally against.

The WWII veteran, 100, became a national treasure by walking 100 laps of his Bedfordshire garden during the first lockdown, leading to international plaudits, a No1 single in the charts and a knighthood from The Queen.

But while many fundraisers would be happy just to hit their targets, Sir Tom shattered the world record with an astonishing £33million in donations. 

Thanking people for their support during his fundraising walk, the man himself said: ‘There has been so much kindness shown and so many people making kind remarks. It’s really outstanding; I never anticipated anything in my life like this.’

So how did a humble 99-year-old grandfather raise this record-breaking sum and become the inspiration for millions?

Less than a year after he won over the nation’s hearts by raising millions of pounds for the NHS, Captain Sir Tom Moore has died from the very virus he inspired people to rally against

First reported on local news on April 9, three days into his 100 laps of his Bedfordshire garden, Sir Tom’s fundraising campaign quickly caught the attention of viewers keen to support the 99-year-old

The news received a very positive reaction, with some people asking the broadcaster where they could donate to the campaign. Another decided to tap Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan, telling him to interview Sir Tom about his fundraiser

It began with a challenge, set Sir Tom’s son-in-law Colin who suggested he do 100 laps of his garden in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, before his big birthday on April 30.

This would be no mean feat for a man approaching his centenary and required the use of a walker to get around, but Sir Tom accepted the challenge, starting on April 6.

His daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore, a recruitment officer, revealed her father had broken his hip in a fall in their kitchen at the end of 2018, and that he was grateful to the NHS for the treatment he received and wanted to do something in return.

So they set up a Just Giving donations page in the hope of giving back to ‘fantastic NHS workers’ through the service’s Charities Together.

According to The Telegraph, Sir Tom came out with his walker one lockdown weekend and Colin jokingly said: ‘Carry on walking, Tom, we’ll give you a pound a lap. Do 100 by your 100th birthday.’ 

days later Sir Tom was face-to-face with Piers Morgan on ITV’s breakfast show talking through his military career and his desire to give back to the NHS. Piers shocked Sir Tom and his daughter Hannah by offering to donate £10,000 to his campaign in the hope of encouraging others

The broadcast caused a huge snowball effect, with £60,000 in donations coming in an hour after the interview on Monday April 13, and by the end of the day Sir Tom had raised £1.5million, three times his target

Three days in to the walk he was interviewed by local news ITV Anglia – having raised £7,000 – after his daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore sent them a press release, with Milton Keynes radio station KMFM also reporting.

The news received a very positive reaction, with some people asking the broadcaster where they could donate to the campaign.

Another decided to tap Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan, telling him to interview Sir Tom about his fundraiser.

While he may not have seen the exact tweet, days later Piers was face-to-face with Sir Tom on ITV’s breakfast show talking through his military career and Sir Tom’s desire to give back to the NHS.

In something of a surprise move, Piers shocked Sir Tom and his daughter Hannah by offering to donate £10,000 to his campaign in the hope of encouraging others.

At the end of the interview Piers said: ‘I want to help get you over the line (£500,000 target) today, I’m going to put £10,000 of my own money into your fundraising today, and I hope that encourages everyone watching at home to do the same, to give as much as they can.’ 

The broadcast caused a huge snowball effect, with £60,000 in donations coming in an hour after the interview on Monday April 13, and by the end of the day Sir Tom had raised £1.5million, three times his target.

Hannah then accompanied her father through a whirlwind of interviews on BBC Breakfast, in dozens of national newspapers and with Michael Ball on BBC Radio Two (pictured)

By April 17, Sir Tom’s Just Giving page had hit £20million, 40 times his £500,000 target which he had originally set at £1,000 before receiving a hugely positive reaction

Hannah then accompanied her father through a whirlwind of interviews on BBC Breakfast, in dozens of national newspapers and with Michael Ball on BBC Radio Two.

By Friday the total had increased 13-fold to £20million, with Just Giving reporting a surge in activity on the site and they attempted to keep up with donations.

Sir Tom was approached with a stream of interview offers and opportunities, with everyone from the England Cricket Team to British Airways wanting to speak to him.

He was honoured on the cover of GQ as their ‘Inspiration of the Year’, a knighthood and his own autobiography, Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day.

In a unique outdoor ceremony to protect against coronavirus, Sir Tom was knighted on the garden of Windsor Castle by The Queen for his fundraising efforts

Sir Tom was honoured on the cover of GQ as their ‘Inspiration of the Year’, the oldest person ever to front the magazine


Sir Tom and his daughter Hannah celebrated his 100th birthday with an RAF flypast provided by a Spitfire and a Hurricane over his home on April 30

With the page not accepting anymore donations, supporters turned their attention to Sir Tom, with over 120,000 cards being sent to his home to mark his 100th birthday, along with thousands of presents.

By his 100th birthday he had broken the world record for fundraising, with the total amount donated confirmed as £33million the following day as his fundraising page closed.

With the page not accepting anymore donations, supporters turned their attention to Sir Tom, with over 120,000 cards being sent to his home to mark his 100th birthday, along with thousands of presents. 

But the humble West Yorkshireman had already been left ‘completely overwhelmed’ by the generosity to his campaign, and asked people not to give to him as he was not seeking any reward.

Thanking well-wishers, he added: ‘I am very comfortable and have everything I need. Covid-19 has left so many without, so please donate to those in need. Thank you.’ 

WWII veteran fundraiser turned 100-year-old national treasure: A timeline of Captain Sir Tom Moore’s extraordinary last year

April 6 2020: Captain Tom, aged 99, sets out to walk 100 laps of his garden by his 100th birthday. His target is to raise £1,000 for the NHS.

April 8: He is interviewed on his local TV news programme after his daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore sends them a press release.

April 14: Donations to the veteran’s JustGiving page break the £1 million mark after national media reports on his efforts.

April 15: Health Secretary Matt Hancock hails Captain Tom as an ‘inspiration to us all’ as donations top £10 million.

April 16: Captain Tom completes his 100th lap of his garden and vows to keep walking.

April 17: The Duke of Cambridge describes the veteran as an ‘absolute legend’. Donations exceed £20 million.

April 21: Captain Tom opens a new Nightingale hospital in his native Yorkshire in a virtual appearance.

April 24: He becomes the oldest artist to reach number one in the UK singles charts with his rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone, recorded with singer Michael Ball.

April 27: Royal Mail announces a special postmark to celebrate Captain Tom’s upcoming birthday.

April 29: Great Western Railway (GWR) names a train after Captain Tom.

April 30: A Spitfire flypast marks the veteran’s 100th birthday. He receives thousands of cards including one from the Queen. His fundraising page closes at midnight having totalled almost £33 million.

May 5: Captain Tom is awarded a gold Blue Peter badge.

May 12: He is awarded the Freedom of the City of London in a virtual ceremony.

July 17: Captain Tom is knighted by the Queen in her first official engagement in person since lockdown lifted, becoming Captain Sir Tom Moore.

July 31: He is awarded the freedom of his home town, Keighley in Yorkshire.

August 3: He is made honorary colonel of the Army Foundation College in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

August 14: His portrait is unveiled at the National Army Museum in London. Artist Alexander Chamberlin says he is ‘hugely proud’ to have painted it.

September 17: Sir Tom launches his autobiography, called Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day. Sales help to support his charity the Captain Tom Foundation, which aims to spread hope.

September 23: A film company announces it is to give Sir Tom the big screen treatment, following a fierce bidding war.

November 5: He launches a campaign called Walk With Tom, aiming to ease loneliness as England enters a second lockdown.

November 16: He becomes GQ’s oldest cover star as the magazine names him its Inspiration Of The Year at the annual Men Of The Year awards.

December 11: After consulting doctors, Sir Tom and his family fly to Barbados after being treated to a holiday by British Airways.

December 25: On Christmas Day Sir Tom tells BBC Breakfast things ‘will get better’ as families spend the holiday alone due to restrictions.

January 1 2021: His figure is formed in lights as part of New Year’s Eve celebrations in London to mark the end of 2020.

January 6: Sir Tom returns to Britain.

January 12: The veteran is admitted to Bedford Hospital and is diagnosed with pneumonia. Between December 9 and January 12 he is regularly tested for Covid-19 and tests negative each time.

January 22: Sir Tom is discharged to his family home so he can feel ‘comfortable’ but tests positive for coronavirus on the same day.

January 31: He is taken back to Bedford Hospital by ambulance for additional treatment for his breathing, after previously receiving care at home from his family and medical professionals.

February 1: His condition deteriorates and daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore and grandchildren Benjie and Georgia visit his bedside to say goodbye while his other daughter Lucy Teixeira speaks to him by video call.

February 2: Sir Tom dies aged 100 in Bedford Hospital as his daughters pay tribute to their ‘incredible father’.

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