Captain Thomas Moore, a British World War II veteran raised money for charity in the run-up to his 100th birthday during the COVID-19 pandemic. On 6 April 2020, at the age of 99, Moore began to walk one hundred lengths of his garden in aid of NHS Charities Together, with the goal of raising 1,000 pounds or $1391 USD by his 100th birthday. In the 24-day course of his fundraising, he made many media appearances and became a popular household name in the UK, earning a number of accolades and attracting over 1.5 million individual donations. By the end of the day on Moore’s hundredth birthday, the total raised by his walk was 32.79 million pounds or $45 million USD.
When his campaign reached 5 million pounds, he explained his motivation “When we started off with this exercise we didn’t anticipate we’d get anything near that sort of money. It’s really amazing. All of them, from top to bottom, in the National Health Service, they deserve everything that we can possibly put in their place. They’re all so brave. Because every morning or every night they’re putting themselves into harm’s way, and I think you’ve got to give them full marks for that effort. We’re a little bit like having a war at the moment. But the doctors and the nurses, they’re all on the front line, and all of us behind, we’ve got to supply them and keep them going with everything that they need, so that they can do their jobs even better than they’re doing now.”
Funds raised by Moore were used on well-being packs for National Health Service staff, facilitating rest and recuperation rooms, devices to enable hospital patients to keep in contact with family members, and community groups who support patients once discharged from hospitals. When his campaign ended, Moore encouraged people to continue to donate, directly to the NHS Charities Together’s urgent appeal.
Moore’s selfless pursuit captured hearts around the world, including that of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who called him “a beacon of light through the fog of coronavirus.” So many cards had been sent to him during the last two weeks before his 100th birthday that Royal Mail had to introduce dedicated sorting facilities and around 20 volunteers were recruited to open and display them, at the local Bedford School. On the morning of his birthday, a Hawker Hurricane and a Spitfire from the Royal Air Force’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight performed a flypast over Moore’s house. In the afternoon, a second flypast featured two Army Air Corps helicopters, a Wildcat and an Apache.
Murals were created in his honor, a bus company named one of its buses Captain Tom Moore on and reprogrammed the electronic displays to show a “Thank You Captain Tom” message intermittently in between the vehicle’s route and destination. On 17 July 2020, he was personally knighted by the Queen at Windsor Castle. Moore passed away on February 2nd 2021 after contracting Covid 19 but his impact during the pandemic made him a hero in the United Kingdom. Moore’s family continues to honor his life and giving spirit through The Captain Tom Foundation.