A 99-year-old English war veteran has achieved his goal of 100 laps of his garden — raising more than £12 million (€13.8m) for the British national health service (NHS).
Captain Tom Moore completed the final four of the 25-metre laps at his Bedfordshire home on Thursday morning, with a special guard of honour by the first battalion of the Yorkshire regiment.
Speaking at the finish line, he said he felt “fine” and that he was “surrounded by the right sort of people”.
Of the coronavirus pandemic, he told BBC Breakfast: “We will get through it in the end but it might take time, but at the end of the day we shall all be okay again . . . the sun will shine on you again and the clouds will go away.”
Cpt Moore was shown a video featuring multiple celebrity well-wishers including cricketer Ben Stokes and singer Michael Ball.
He planned to reach his target before his 100th birthday on April 30th to help those on the front line of the coronavirus crisis. Cpt Moore said plans for his party have been affected by the virus, and he joked everyone would have to keep six metres away from him “because I must be something horrid”.
He added that the national outpouring of love and support for him was “a party enough for me”. After smashing his first modest target of £1,000, Cpt Moore has now raised more than £12.3 million, saying medical staff “deserve everything we can give them”.
His daughter Hannah said he had become a “beacon of hope” during challenging times. Speaking to ITV on Thursday morning, the captain said the public generosity had been “unbelievable”.
He added: “Nurses, doctors and all the back-up workers, they deserve everything we can give them.”
Cpt Moore, who lives with his family, was given a special mention in a press briefing on Wednesday by British health secretary Matt Hancock, who described him as an "inspiration".
The British ministry of defence tweeted its congratulations as he finished his walk. After being told he had become the largest single fundraiser for the JustGiving donation site, Cpt Moore said he would continue with his fundraising.
“Please remember tomorrow is a good day and we will get through it in the end,” he said. “I shall continue walking.”
There have been multiple calls on social media for Cpt Moore to receive a knighthood for his charitable actions, and there is an online campaign for children to make him birthday cards. His daughter said the local postmaster had already been “inundated” with messages ahead of his birthday.
Originally from Keighley in West Yorkshire, Cpt Moore trained as a civil engineer before enlisting in the British army for the Second World War, rising to captain and serving in India and Burma. Donations to NHS Charities Together can still be made at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tomswalkforthenhs.