100-Year-Old Tom Moore, Who Raised Millions By Walking Laps, Has Been Knighted

Jul 16, 2020
Originally published on July 17, 2020 12:47 pm

This spring, 100-year-old Capt. Tom Moore became a national hero in Britain when he raised more than $40 million for health care workers by walking laps in his garden.

On Friday, he became Capt. Sir Tom Moore when he is knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

Moore received the honor in a private ceremony at Windsor Castle, where the monarch has been sheltering with her husband Prince Philip. Standing upright with his walker, Moore received his title at a time when other investitures have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Buckingham Palace believes it's the first such ceremony to hew to social distancing, the BBC reported.

According to The Telegraph, the Queen and Moore had a roughly five-minute conversation. She was reportedly overheard asking the veteran if he had been "self-isolating" and told him, "one hundred is a great age."

Ahead of the ceremony, Moore joked to reporters, "If I kneel down I'll never get up again" and spoke eagerly of the honor about to be bestowed upon him.

He added that he was "absolutely overwhelmed" to meet the queen, according to the Telegraph.

When the pandemic struck, Moore set a goal of raising £1,000 for National Health Service workers, to whom he said he was "eternally grateful" after having received treatment for a cancer scare and hip fracture in the past.

Moore originally set out to do 100 laps around an 82-foot loop in his garden, "at 50 meters a time," before his birthday in late April. He reached his donation target in 24 hours. Support continued to pour in, with more than 1.5 million people ultimately contributing.

Dressed sharply and wearing his military medals, the World War II veteran won hearts as he pushed his walker around the garden. He also inspired a number of copycat fundraisers, ranging in age from five years old to 103.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson recognized Moore as a "Point of Light" on his hundredth birthday, and praised his positive example in a letter.

"You have touched our hearts, lifted our spirits and enabled millions to show their support for the wonderful men and women of our unique NHS," Johnson wrote. "Because of their extraordinary courage and dedication our country will get through this difficult time and, in doing so, fulfil your optimism that tomorrow will indeed be a better day."

Johnson recommended Moore for knighthood in May, calling him "synonymous with the spirit of the current collective national effort."

A steady stream of accolades have followed. Among them, Moore was made an honorary colonel and an honorary member of the England cricket team.

Moore now holds two Guinness World Records: one for raising the most money as an individual through a charity walk, and one for being the oldest person to reach number one on the UK charts after he joined singer Michael Ball and an NHS Voices of Care choir to record a version of "You'll Never Walk Alone" for charity.

He has also created his own charity, the Captain Tom Foundation, which aims to combat loneliness, support hospices and help individuals facing bereavement.

According to his website, Moore has supporters around the world, but is especially touched by the thanks he has received from NHS workers, whom he considers to be the heroes. It adds:

"He has become a national treasure and a national hero, but sees himself as anything but."

NPR's Jason Slotkin contributed to this report.

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