British Army photo of Moore as a second lieutenant, c. 1941
30 April 1920
Keighley, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
|Alma mater||Keighley Grammar School, West Yorkshire|
(m. 1968; died 2006)
|Years of service||1939–1946|
Captain Sir Thomas Moore (born 30 April 1920), popularly known as "Captain Tom", is a former British Army officer and centenarian, known for his achievements raising money for charity in the run-up to his 100th birthday during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moore served in India, the Burma campaign and Sumatra during the Second World War, and later became an instructor in armoured warfare. After the war, he worked as managing director of a concrete company and was an avid motorcycle racer.
On 6 April 2020, at the age of 99, he began to walk laps of his garden in aid of NHS Charities Together, with the goal of raising £1,000 by his hundredth birthday. In the 24-day course of his fundraising he made many media appearances and became a popular household name in the United Kingdom, generating much interest in his life story, earning a number of accolades and attracting over 1.5 million individual donations. He featured in a cover version of the song "You'll Never Walk Alone" sung by Michael Ball, with proceeds going to the same charity. The single topped the UK music charts and made him the oldest person to achieve a UK number one.
On the morning of his hundredth birthday the total raised by his walk passed £30 million, and by the time the campaign closed at the end of that day had increased to over £32.79 million (worth almost £39 million with expected tax rebates). His birthday was marked in a number of ways, including flypasts by the Royal Air Force and the British Army. He received over 150,000 cards, and was appointed as honorary colonel of the Army Foundation College. On 17 July 2020, he was invested as a Knight Bachelor at Windsor Castle.
Early life and family
Moore was born in Keighley, West Riding of Yorkshire, on 30 April 1920 and grew up in the town. His father, Wilfred, was one of a family of builders,[unreliable source?] his mother was a head teacher. Moore was educated at Keighley Grammar School and started an apprenticeship in civil engineering.
Moore was conscripted in the 8th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's Regiment (8 DWR) in May 1940, stationed in Cornwall, shortly after the beginning of the Second World War. He was selected for officer training later that year, and attended an Officer Cadet Training Unit before being commissioned as a second lieutenant on 28 June 1941.
On 22 October 1941, Moore became a member of the Royal Armoured Corps. This was because 8 DWR became an armoured unit designated as the 145th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps. Later that year, he was transferred to the 9th Battalion (9 DWR) in India, which had also been redesignated as the 146th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps. While in India he was tasked with setting up and running a training programme for army motorcyclists. He was initially posted to Bombay (now Mumbai) and subsequently to Calcutta (now Kolkata).
As part of the Fourteenth Army, the so-called "Forgotten Army", he served in Arakan in western Burma (now Myanmar) – where he survived Dengue fever. Tom returned to the UK in February 1945, to take a training course on the inner workings of the Churchill tanks, learning to become an instructor. He did not return to the regiment, remaining as an instructor and the Technical Adjutant of the Armoured Vehicle Fighting School in Bovington Camp, Dorset, until he was demobilised in early 1946.
Career and hobbies
After leaving the army, he worked as a sales manager for a roofing materials company in Yorkshire, and later as managing director of a Fens-based company manufacturing concrete, Cawood Concrete Products Ltd, which was renamed March Concrete Products Ltd. after he led a management buyout in 1983. The company was sold to ARC in 1987.
For 64 years, he organised the DWR's annual reunion.
Moore raced motorcycles competitively - he purchased his first when he was 12 - wearing the number 23. He rode a Scott motorcycle, winning several trophies. Moore was a member of the Keighley and District Photographic Association between 1934 and 1936, as had been his father.
Tom's 100th Birthday Walk
On 6 April 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, and with his 100th birthday approaching, Moore began a fundraising campaign for NHS Charities Together, a group of charities supporting staff, volunteers and patients in the British National Health Service (NHS). He aimed to complete one hundred 25-metre (27-yard) laps of his garden, ten laps per day, with the help of a walking frame, branding the endeavour "Tom's 100th Birthday Walk For The NHS".
The initial £1,000 goal having been realised on 10 April, the target was increased, first to £5,000, and eventually to £500,000 as more people around the world became involved. Contributions rose exponentially after British media publicised the endeavour, beginning when Moore made a brief appearance by telephone, on Michael Ball's Sunday programme on BBC Radio 2 on 12 April. Moore, who joined Twitter in the same month, used the site to express joy at the public's generosity in donating such a large amount of money.
He achieved his target of one hundred laps on the morning of 16 April, watched at a safe distance by a guard of honour from the 1st Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, the regiment into which the DWR were merged in 2006. He said, he would not stop, and aimed to do a second hundred.
On the morning of his birthday he had raised £30 million The JustGiving page for his campaign closed at the end of that day; the final amount raised subsequently being stated there as £32,796,475 (plus another £6,173,663.31 expected in tax rebates under the Gift Aid scheme) – a record for a JustGiving campaign, beating the previous record of £5.2 million raised (partially posthumously) by Stephen Sutton. More than 1.5 million individuals donated.
Funds raised by Moore are being spent on such things as 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. Once his campaign ended, Moore encouraged people to continue to donate, directly to the NHS Charities Together's urgent appeal, and subsequently via his own Captain Tom Foundation.
On reaching £5 million, Moore 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.
Number one single
To mark Moore's 100th lap, the singer Michael Ball sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" for him live on BBC Breakfast. Within 24 hours, the performance was made into a digital single featuring the NHS Voices of Care Choir, and Moore's spoken words. Released by Decca Records, on 17 April, with all proceeds going to NHS Charities Together, the recording topped the United Kingdom's "The Official Big Top 40" chart. It sold almost 36,000 copies in its first 48 hours, and was "biggest trending song" as measured by the Official Charts Company. On 24 April, it went straight to No. 1 in the weekly "Official" UK Singles Chart, making Moore the oldest person to achieve that position and meaning that he was at No. 1 on his 100th birthday, and became a one-hit wonder.
Moore's bid to reach No. 1 was boosted when his leading competitor, the then-current No. 1, The Weeknd, used Twitter to ask people to support Moore and make him No. 1 for his 100th birthday. The Weeknd's song, "Blinding Lights", duly dropped to No. 2.
On 16 April, after Moore's 100th lap, a UK Government spokesman said:
the Prime Minister will certainly be looking at ways to recognise Tom's heroic efforts.
Brigadier Andrew Jackson, Colonel of the Yorkshire Regiment, described Moore as:
an absolute legend [from] an exceptional generation that are still an inspiration for our Yorkshire soldiers today.
On 23 April, he was given a Pride of Britain award in recognition of his efforts, after "thousands of nominations" were received. He was appointed the first Honorary Colonel of the Army Foundation College in Harrogate, Yorkshire, a training centre for soldiers under 18, on his 100th birthday. When acting in that capacity, he will be addressed as "Colonel Tom". He also received the Yorkshire Regiment Medal for his "outstanding contribution to our military effectiveness and military reputation". [He made his first visit to the college on 10 September, when he was Chief Inspecting Officer at their annual graduation parade.]
By 20 April, more than 800,000 people had signed a petition calling for Moore to be knighted. Late on 19 May, it was announced that he was to be made a Knight Bachelor following a special nomination by the prime minister. The knighthood is part of the 2020 Special Honours, and was conferred on 20 May. The investiture, by Elizabeth II, took place outdoors, in the quadrangle at Windsor Castle, on 17 July; Moore was the only person honoured at the ceremony, and it was the Queen's first official engagement in person since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown. She used the sword that had belonged to her father George VI.
Cranfield University, near Moore's home in Bedfordshire, awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Science. It was presented to him by Barbara Young, Baroness Young of Old Scone, Chancellor of the university, and Sir Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor, in a video call.
In July, Moore became the first member and captain of the Football Association and England National Football Team's Lionhearts squad. This honour was presented by former England captain David Beckham.
A number of artists have painted portraits of Moore; some said they would gift the paintings to him, or sell them to raise more funds. Others depicted him in murals, including examples in Cambourne, Tamworth, and Thetford. On 14 August an official portrait painted by Alexander Chamberlin was unveiled. It is in the collection of the National Army Museum.
Moore has given over 150 media interviews. On 6 May, BBC One changed its advertised schedule to screen a 30-minute BBC News Special, Captain Tom: We Salute You, presented by Michael Ball. During the programme, Ball visited Moore at his home, and at the end of the programme the pair duetted, a cappella, the first verse of their hit single. Another UK television channel, ITV, screened a 30-minute documentary, Captain Tom's War, on 8 May, in which Moore reminisced about his military career, followed by the hour-long The Life & Times of Captain Sir Tom on 13 August.
Guinness World Records
Moore holds two Guinness World Records: as the fundraiser raising the greatest amount of money in an individual charity walk, and as the oldest person to have a number-one single on the UK charts.
Over a week before Moore's 100th birthday, so many cards had been sent to him that Royal Mail had had to introduce dedicated sorting facilities and around 20 volunteers were recruited to open and display them, at the local Bedford School. By his birthday over 150,000 cards had been received.[unreliable source?]
Royal Mail announced that all stamped post between 26 April and 1 May would be postmarked "Happy 100th Birthday Captain Thomas Moore NHS fundraising hero 30th April 2020". Royal Mail also celebrated his birthday by painting a postbox, near his home, the shade of blue used by the NHS, with a golden balloon and inscription on the side.
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.
Michael Ball appeared live on BBC Breakfast to sing "Happy Birthday to You" to Moore. Birthday congratulations were also made by Boris Johnson, Harry Kane, and Prince Charles. Moore also took a video call from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres.
Keighley Bus Company named one of its Optare Versa buses Captain Tom Moore on 20 April, and reprogrammed the electronic displays to show a "Thank You Captain Tom" message intermittently in between the vehicle's route and destination. A plaque inside the bus gives further information of Moore's life and fundraising. Other buses in the town, and across parent company Transdev Blazefield, displayed an intermittent "Thank You NHS" message. Alex Hornby, chief executive of Transdev Blazefield, described the vehicle as the "pride of the fleet" in dedication to Moore, thanking him for his fundraising efforts. On 25 April, bus company Stagecoach East, which runs services in Bedford where Moore now lives, named one of its Alexander Dennis Enviro400 MMC double-decker buses Captain Tom Moore.
On 29 April Great Western Railway named a Class 800 train, 800 025, Captain Tom Moore. On 30 April GB Railfreight named a Class 66, 66 731, Capt. Tom Moore – A True British Inspiration. Hornby Railways produced a OO gauge model locomotive, and donated £140,000 raised from its sales to NHS Charities. This locomotive was a record for Hornby, which sold 3,500 units in four days – on average one every two minutes and 26 seconds.
In late April, West Midlands Police named a police dog puppy Captain Tom Moore, the name being an "overwhelming favourite" in an online vote to name dogs after "NHS heroes". The dog, a Dutch Herder, was chosen as his father was, like Moore, born and bred in Yorkshire. World Horse Welfare named a foal, recently born at its base in Thetford, Captain Tom, after a poll on social media. A Clydesdale horse born in the Lake District on Moore's birthday was also named Captain Tom. Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service named a powerboat Captain Tom. Bedford Hospital will also be naming a new landscaped garden after him.
Similar fundraising efforts
Moore's success inspired a number of other people around the world to raise funds by walking, including a six-year-old Bristol boy with spina bifida, who raised almost £195,000; a 13-year old stroke survivor who walked on a treadmill; a young boy who is non-verbal through autism, but wrote down that he wanted to help, and former Scotland international rugby player Mike Biggar, who survived a major brain injury in a 1992 car crash and raised nearly £25,000 by walking 100 steps. A seven year old Devon schoolboy Louie Skinner from Torquay with Cerebral palsy inspired by Captain Tom Moore completed a 2.6k walk, raising £2500 for Rowcroft Hospice. A nine-year-old boy Tobias Weller from Sheffield, South Yorkshire with Cerebral palsy said it felt "magnificent" to have completed his challenge Weller raised £46,000 greatly exceeding his initial target of £500.The money will be donated to Sheffield Children's Hospital and Paces School where Weller attends.
Internationally John Hillman, a 101-year-old former Royal Air Force aviator and veteran of the Burma Campaign raised over C$137,000 for Canadian children affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Inspired by Moore, Private Joseph Ashitey Hammond, 95 year-old veteran of the Burma campaigns, walked 2 miles (3.2 km) each day for a week in Accra during May, walking in the early morning to avoid the heat and humidity of the day. The final day of his seven-day walk coincided with Africa Day on Monday 25 May and he was joined by Iain Walker, High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to Ghana for that part of his walk. He is a veteran of the Royal West African Frontier Force drafted at 16, the only surviving member of his Gold Coast Regiment, and one of 65,000 Ghanaian soldiers who fought under British officers in Burma. By June he had raised £28,000 for the aid of veterans and healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa, with a fundraising goal of $600,000. He was congratulated by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex in June and was informed later the same month he was to receive a Commonwealth Points of Light award.
Moore has been awarded the following British medals.
|Knight Bachelor||20 May 2020|
|Defence Medal||Reissued 30 April 2020|
|War Medal 1939–1945|
Moore married Billie when he was 29; the marriage was never consummated, and ended after almost twenty years, due to her infidelity, although the divorce was on the grounds of his staged adultery. He married Pamela, some 15 years his junior, in January 1968, and they had two daughters, Lucy and Hannah. When Moore was working at Cawood/ March Concrete, the family lived in Welney in Norfolk.
The couple retired to the Costa del Sol, Spain, but had to return when Pamela developed a form of dementia. She spent her last years in a nursing home, where Moore would visit her every day. She died in 2006. Moore has lived with Hannah, her husband, and two grandchildren, in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, since 2008. He also has two other grandchildren.
In 2018, he received treatment from the NHS, for a broken hip, broken rib, punctured lung and other serious injuries, following a fall. He was still recovering from these injuries when he started his fund-raising walk. The same year, he was also treated for skin cancer. He has also had a hip replacement and two knee replacements. His great-nephew is a paediatric junior doctor at East Surrey Hospital.
Moore's autobiography, Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day (with a ghost-writer, Wendy Holden), was published by Penguin Books on 17 September 2020. An audiobook edition is read by Derek Jacobi. A version for children is also planned.
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Born to a builder father and headteacher mother
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- @theweeknd (23 April 2020). "everyone in the UK please support @captaintommoore / @mrmichaelball single so this incredible 99 yr old war veteran, walking for the British National Health Service @NHSuk & now raised $35 Million can have a No 1 for his 100th birthday in the UK! We're routing for you. XO!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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I am walking 10 metres with my walking frame for NHS Charities Together because I have been inspired by Captain Tom Moore
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These amazing people might not be here if it weren't for the NHS. They've been inspired by Captain Tom Moore to do their own walking challenges.
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