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Capt. Tom Moore, UK veteran who walked for NHS, dies at 100

Last Updated Feb 2, 2021 at 10:39 am PST

FILE - In this Friday, July 17, 2020 file photo, Captain Sir Thomas Moore poses for the media after receiving his knighthood from Britain's Queen Elizabeth, during a ceremony at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England. Tom Moore, the 100-year-old World War II veteran who captivated the British public in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic with his fundraising efforts, has died, Tuesday Feb. 2, 2021. (Chris Jackson/Pool Photo via AP, File)
Summary

Capt. Tom Moore has died at the age of 100 after testing positive for COVID-19

World War II veteran grew to international fame as he walked up and down his garden to raise money for NHS in the U.K.

LONDON — Capt. Tom Moore, the World War II veteran who walked into the hearts of a nation in lockdown as he shuffled up and down his garden to raise money for healthcare workers, has died after testing positive for COVID-19. He was 100.

His family announced Moore’s death Tuesday in a tweet with his photo, noting that his death was in 2021.

On Sunday, his family confirmed on the same Twitter page that Moore had been admitted to the hospital.

The statement said Moore had been receiving treatment for pneumonia in the weeks prior, and that he tested positive for the coronavirus the week before.

“The medical care he has received in the last few weeks has been remarkable and we know that the wonderful staff at Bedford Hospital will do all they can to make him comfortable and hopefully return home as soon as possible,” the statement said.

Captain Tom, as he became known in newspaper headlines and TV interviews, set out to raise 1,000 pounds for Britain’s National Health Service by walking 100 laps of his backyard. But his quest went viral and caught the imagination of millions stuck at home during the first wave of the pandemic. Donations poured in from across Britain and as far away as the United States and Japan, raising some 33 million pounds ($40 million).

For three weeks in April, fans were greeted with daily videos of Captain Tom, stooped with age, doggedly pushing his walker in the garden. But it was his sunny attitude during a dark moment that inspired people to look beyond illness and loss.

“Please always remember, tomorrow will be a good day,” Moore said in an interview during his walk, uttering the words that became his trademark.

When Captain Tom finished his 100th lap on April 16, a military honour guard lined the path. The celebration continued on his 100th birthday a few days later, when two World War II-era fighter planes flew overhead in tribute. Moore, a plaid blanket over his shoulders, pumped a fist as they roared past.

In this photo provided by Capture the Light Photography, Second World War veteran Captain Tom Moore cuts into one of his birthday cakes as he celebrates his 100th birthday, in Bedford, England, Thursday April 30, 2020. A British army veteran who started walking laps in his garden as part of a humble fundraiser for the National Health Service is celebrating his 100th birthday after warming the hearts of a nation that donated millions of pounds to back his appeal. (Emma Sohl/Capture the Light Photography via AP)

In July, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II during a socially distanced ceremony at Windsor Castle, west of London. The 94-year-old monarch used an impossibly long sword to confer the honour as Moore, wearing his wartime medals on his chest, leaned on his walker and beamed.

“I have been overwhelmed by the many honours I have received over the past weeks, but there is simply nothing that can compare to this,? he tweeted after the ceremony. “I am overwhelmed with pride and joy.”

Born in Keighley, West Yorkshire, on April 30, 1920, Moore completed an apprenticeship in civil engineering before being drafted into the army during the early months of World War II. After being selected for officer training, he rose to the rank of captain while serving in India, Burma and Sumatra.

After leaving the army in 1946, Moore went to work for the family construction firm. After that failed, he became a salesman and later a manager for building materials companies. When the concrete company he was working for was threatened with closure, Moore rounded up a group of investors and bought it, preserving 60 jobs.

Along the way, he divorced his first wife and fell in love with his employer’s office manager, Pamela. The couple married, had two daughters and eventually retired to Spain, but returned to England after Pamela became ill.

After wife died in 2006, Moore moved to the village of Marston Mortaine in Bedfordshire to live with his younger daughter, Hannah, and her family.