Tom Moore, the 100-year-old World War II veteran whose efforts to raise millions for the UK’s National Health Service made him a universally adored icon during the first wave of the Covid-19 outbreak, has died in hospital after himself contracting the disease, his family said Tuesday. Known affectionately as Captain Tom, Moore raised almost £33 million ($45 million) by walking laps of his garden last year. His exploits united a country frozen in lockdown and made him an unlikely celebrity late in his life, earning him a military promotion, a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II and a number-one single.
Moore tested positive for the virus and was taken to a hospital on Sunday, suffering from breathing problems after being treated for pneumonia, his family said. They announced his death on Tuesday.”It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our dear father, Captain Sir Tom Moore,” the family said in a statement to PA Media.
Queen knights 100-year-old veteran Captain Tom Moore, who raised millions for NHS”The last year of our father’s life was nothing short of remarkable. He was rejuvenated and experienced things he’d only ever dreamed of,” they added. “Whilst he’d been in so many hearts for just a short time, he was an incredible father and grandfather, and he will stay alive in our hearts forever.”Buckingham Palace said the Queen was sending a private message of condolence to Moore’s family, as numerous figures in British politics, culture, sport and society paid tribute to him.Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “a hero in the truest sense of the word,” and Moore’s foundation, set up in the wake of his remarkable fundraising achievements, said it was “heartbroken.”
A family joke that captivated the country
Moore’s fundraising efforts will long be associated with the UK’s plunge into lockdown last spring, and his death makes him one of the highest-profile victims of a virus that has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 Britons.His campaign began as a family joke during his recovery from a broken hip, and he initially sought an unassuming target of £1,000 ($1,370) for his troubles. But within days, his slow but determined journeys around his backyard had attracted rounds of media attention.
Viewers would seek updates on Moore’s progress each day, and his final steps were cheered by supporters around the world.”I’m absolutely overwhelmed by this sum of money,” Moore told CNN last year. “We really never, ever for a minute thought we would get to this sort of money. We started off with a little modest figure.”