A 100-year-old Army veteran, who served in India during World War II and recently became a national hero in the UK after he helped raise over GBP 32 million for the National Health Service in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, will be knighted by Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday.
Captain Tom Moore said he was “absolutely overwhelmed” when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson”s special nomination was accepted by the 94-year-old monarch with a formal announcement expected soon.
As an honorary colonel, Moore”s official title will be Captain Sir Thomas Moore under the UK Ministry of Defence protocol. “I am absolutely overwhelmed. Never for one moment could I have imagined to be awarded with such a great honour,” said Moore, who has expressed his wish to revisit India. “I”d like to thank Her Majesty the Queen, the Prime Minister and the Great British public.
I will remain at your service. This started as something small and I”ve been overwhelmed by the gratitude and love from the British public and beyond,” he said.
“We must take this opportunity to recognise our frontline heroes of the National Health Service who put their lives at risk everyday to keep us safe,” he added.
The UK PM described Captain Moore as a “true national treasure” who “provided us all with a beacon of light through the fog of coronavirus”. “On behalf of everyone who has been moved by his incredible story, I want to say a huge thank you,” said Johnson.
The knighthood comes just weeks after he was appointed an honorary colonel to mark his centenary on April 30 and fundraising efforts during the pandemic.
When the veteran set out to walk 100 laps of his garden in Marston Moretaine in Bedfordshire before his 100th birthday, he was aiming to raise a humble GBP 1,000.
But his determination to complete the challenge while using a walking frame captured the public”s imagination and within days he had raised tens of millions of pounds, with the figure continuing to grow even after he had completed the 100th lap.
Opposition Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer congratulated Captain Tom and said he had “brought inspiration to millions and helped all of us to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of our NHS”.
“In his actions, Tom embodied the national solidarity which has grown throughout this crisis, and showed us that everyone can play their part in helping build a better future,” he said.
An online petition calling for him to be knighted received more than a million signatures and he was showered with nearly 1,50,000 birthday cards.
Conscripted to the 8th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment in 1940, Moore served in India and Burma and then instructed at the Armoured Fighting Vehicle School. After the war, he became managing director of a concrete company.
The war veteran refuses to slow down and is now fundraising for a new set of charities. He has set up a foundation and a website called captaintom.org to raise money to combat issues such as loneliness and help fund more hospices. He also has his own Twitter account and a publishing contract to write two books.