Captain Tom Moore, who raised almost £33m for the NHS as it battled to cope with coronavirus, is to be knighted, Boris Johnson has said.
The 100-year-old World War Two veteran, who raised the extraordinary sum of money by walking up and down his garden, said: “I am absolutely overwhelmed. Never for one moment could I have imagined to be awarded with such a great honour.
“I’d like to thank Her Majesty the Queen, the prime minister and the Great British public. I will remain at your service.
“This started as something small and I’ve been overwhelmed by the gratitude and love from the British public and beyond.
“We must take this opportunity to recognise our frontline heroes of the National Health Service who put their lives at risk everyday to keep us safe.”
The prime minister, who recommended the award, which the Queen approved, called Captain Moore a “true national treasure” who “provided us all with a beacon of light through the fog of coronavirus“.null
His knighthood comes just weeks after he was made an honorary colonel to mark his centenary and fundraising efforts.
When the veteran set out to walk 100 laps of his garden in Marston Moretaine in Bedfordshire before his 100th birthday on 30 April, he was aiming to raise £1,000.
But his determination to complete the challenge while using a walking frame captured the public imagination during the pandemic and within days he had raised tens of millions of pounds.
By the time his big day came round, he had raised more than £30m for NHS Charities Together.
The organisation provides food parcels and counselling sessions for NHS staff who are tackling the coronavirus outbreak, as well as electronic tablets to allow patients to talk with their loved ones.
The achievement was celebrated by a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flypast by a Spitfire and a Hurricane.
Capt Moore was sent more than 140,000 birthday cards which were displayed at his grandson’s school.
An online petition calling for him to be knighted received more than a million signatures and a charity single with singer Michael Ball reached number one in the charts.
The success of their version of You’ll Never Walk Alone made him the oldest artist ever to have a UK number one single.
Mr Johnson said: “Colonel Tom’s fantastic fundraising broke records, inspired the whole country and provided us all with a beacon of light through the fog of coronavirus.
“On behalf of everyone who has been moved by his incredible story, I want to say a huge thank you. He’s a true national treasure.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer congratulated the veteran, who said Capt Moore had brought “inspiration to millions and helped all of us to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of our NHS”.
He added: “In his actions, Tom embodied the national solidarity which has grown throughout this crisis, and showed us that everyone can play their part in helping build a better future.”
Sir Tom enlisted into the eighth battalion of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (8 DWR), an infantry unit that was converted to operate Churchill tanks as part of the Royal Armoured Corps (RAC).
After being promoted to captain, he served in India and Burma and went with his regiment to Sumatra after the Japanese surrender.
After the war he returned to the UK and worked as an instructor at the Armoured Fighting Vehicle School in Bovington, Dorset.
He lived in Kent for many years before moving to Bedfordshire to be with his family in 2007.
Source: Sky News