British veteran raises $37 million for COVID-19 relief on 100th birthday
By Viviana García
London, Apr 30 (efe-epa).- The 100th birthday of British war veteran Captain Tom Moore was celebrated with much fanfare on Thursday after he managed to raise millions of pounds for the National Health Service with a simple gesture: taking 100 laps of his garden with the help of a walker.
Images of the short, stopped, a well-dressed elderly man – with his military medals proudly displayed on his lapel – walking slowly, grabbed attention across the world after going viral on social networks in the United Kingdom.
Moore had a modest target: raising 1,000 pounds ($1,250) for the NHS before his birthday, but his appeal touched hearts and donations skyrocketed, crossing 30 million pounds (approximately $37.4 million) by Thursday, with the fundraising set to close by midnight.
His feat won accolades from millions of Brits, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who recorded a special video to send birthday greetings to the captain.
Moore also received a personalized greeting card from Queen Elizabeth II and was promoted to an honorary colonel.
Moore has turned into a symbol of hope and determination in the UK, which has been struggling to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, with more than 26,000 deaths reported so far.
“Reaching 100 is quite something. Reaching 100 with such interest in me and huge generosity from the public is very overwhelming,” he said on his birthday, aired live by TV channels, adding that “please always remember, tomorrow will be a good day.”
“I have renewed purpose and have thoroughly enjoyed every second of this exciting adventure.”
Moore has received more than 140,000 greeting cards at his home in the English village of Marston Moretain, where he was also formally informed of his promotion to honorary colonel of the 1st Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment.
The village postmaster Bill Chandi said that they had been busier than during Christmas, delivering all the greeting cards to Moore, who he termed a role-model.
The Royal Air Force carried out a flypast over the veteran’s house by two warplanes, a Spitfire and a Hurricane.
He was also awarded the Freedom of the City of London on Thursday in recognition of his charity work, while the Royal Mail has painted a postbox in Marston Moretaine in the NHS blue color and decorated it with a golden balloon as a tribute to his fundraising.
Along with getting a card signed by a Queen, sent to all Britons turning 100, Moore watched on television as Johnson offered the nation’s gratitude in a message from his office at 10, Downing Street, London.
“I know I speak for the whole nation when I say we wish you a very happy 100th birthday. Your heroic efforts have lifted the spirits of the entire nation, you’ve created a channel to enable millions to say a heartfelt thank you to the remarkable men and women in our NHS who have all been doing the most outstanding job,” the PM said.
Captain Tom joined the army at the beginning of World War II, serving in India and Burma, now known as Myanmar.
After the war, he became an instructor at the Armoured Fighting Vehicle School in Bovington, Dorset (southwest England).
He has been living in Marston Moretaine with his youngest daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore since 2007.
Moore admitted he was tired after the day’s proceedings but was full of high spirits.
“My legs may be tired, but my mind is racing and I’m hoping to be back very soon with other ways in which I can help people, help others.” EFE-EPA