The NHS, the Queen and Boris Johnson have led tributes to Captain Sir Tom Moore, who has died at the age of 100 after testing positive for COVID-19.
In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, Sir Tom’s daughters Hannah Ingram-Moore and Lucy Teixeira said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our dear father, Captain Sir Tom Moore.
“We are so grateful that we were with him during the last hours of his life; Hannah, Benjie and Georgia by his bedside and Lucy on FaceTime. We spent hours chatting to him, reminiscing about our childhood and our wonderful mother. We shared laughter and tears together.
“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.”
Sir Tom’s twitter account posted a picture of him shortly after his death was confirmed.
Buckingham Palace confirmed the Queen had sent a private message of condolence to the family, while the prime minister described him as a “hero in the truest sense of the word”. The NHS tweeted: “Thanks for everything Sir Tom.”
Sir Tom became a national hero last year during the coronavirus pandemic after he raised millions of pounds for the NHS through his charity walk.
He had been admitted to Bedford Hospital, Bedfordshire, on Sunday after he needed extra help with his breathing.
In an update posted on the Captain Tom Moore Twitter account, his daughter Hannah said he was being treated for pneumonia over the last few weeks and had tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
Dubbed the star of 2020, Sir Tom raised £33m for NHS charities after he decided to walk 100 laps of the garden of his daughter’s home in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, last April, before he turned 100 years old.
He received more than 150,000 birthday cards from the public, and one from the Queen, who gave him a knighthood at Windsor Castle in July.
Sir Tom rounded off 2020 with a trip to Barbados with his family, and his fundraising efforts were marked during the new year drone display in London, as his figure appeared in lights over the O2 Arena.
A host of celebrities offered their well wishes to Sir Tom after he was taken to hospital.
‘Thanks for everything’
Tributes immediately poured in after his death was announced. The NHS – the beneficiary of Sir Tom’s heroic efforts – posted a simple but touching message on Twitter which said simply: “Thanks for everything Sir Tom.”
Buckingham Palace said that the Queen had sent a personal message of condolence to the family: “The Queen is sending a private message of condolence to the family of Captain Sir Tom Moore. Her Majesty very much enjoyed meeting Cpt Sir Tom and his family at Windsor last year.
“Her thoughts, and those of the Royal Family, are with them, recognising the inspiration he provided for the whole nation and others across the world.”
Boris Johnson said Sir Tom had “fought for freedom” in the “dark days of the Second World War, adding: “In the face of this country’s deepest post war crisis he united us all, he cheered us all up, and he embodied the triumph of the human spirit.
“It is quite astonishing that at the age of 100 he raised more than £32 million for the NHS, and so gave countless others their own chance to thank the extraordinary men and women who have protected us through the pandemic.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer described his death as “incredibly sad news”, saying: “Captain Tom Moore put others first at a time of national crisis and was a beacon of hope for millions. Britain has lost a hero.”
Health secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: “I’m so sorry to hear that Captain Tom has passed away in hospital.
“He was a great British hero that showed the best of our country & I send my best wishes to his family at this time.”
Singer Michael Ball, who recorded a charity single with Sir Tom that reached number one, wrote on Twitter: “Rest in peace @captaintommoore. A wonderful life so well lived and a hero and fighter to the very end.
“So very very sad. Love and prayers for @Hannah_I_M and all the family.”
It started with a walk
On 6 April, Captain Tom began “Tom’s 100th Birthday Walk For The NHS” at the home of his daughter in Bedfordshire.
He planned to raise £1,000 for NHS Charities Together in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic by using his walking frame to complete 100 laps of his garden – each lap measuring 25 metres – before his 100th birthday on 30 April.
By the time of his 100th birthday at the end of April, Captain Tom had raised more than £32m and the JustGiving appeal was closed.
Happy 100th birthday
Captain Tom’s birthday was marked with an RAF flypast and he was made an honorary colonel of the Army Foundation College in Harrogate, Yorkshire, a training centre for soldiers under 18.
His birthday was also marked by Royal Mail, who stamped all post between 26 April and 1 May with the postmark: “Happy 100th Birthday Captain Thomas Moore NHS fundraising hero 30th April 2020”.
It seemed the world wanted to wish Captain Tom – he had received 90,000 birthday cards by 23 April.
The total number of cards eventually topped 150,000 – including one from the Queen – and the vast bulk of them were stored at his grandson’s school, Bedford School.
According to Guinness World Records, CaptainTom holds the title for the most money raised by an individual performing a charity walk.
He is also the oldest person to reach number one in the UK music charts.
To mark his 100th lap of his walk, singer Michael Ball sang You’ll Never Walk Alone for Captain Tom live on BBC Breakfast.
The performance was made into a digital single featuring Captain Tom’s words and the NHS Voices of Care Choir.
By 20 April, more than 800,000 people had signed a petition calling for Captain Tom to be given a knighthood.
A month later, it was announced he would get one, after receiving a special nomination by the prime minister.
Captain Tom became Captain Sir Thomas Moore, and received the knighthood from the Queen outside in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle in July.
GQ cover star
In November, Sir Tom became the oldest cover star for British GQ, as he was named the magazine’s Inspiration of the Year.
Reacting to being on the cover, he told GQ: “Well, that’s something special, isn’t it?
Read more: Captain Sir Tom Moore in his own words
“And maybe next year, I’ll be the oldest again!”
Summing up the approach that earned him a place in the hearts of millions, he said: “Negative thoughts don’t seem to be part of me. I always think of the beneficial things.”