Colonel Tom Moore celebrates 100th birthday with RAF flypast as his fund hits £30m

30 April 2020, 00:01

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Hero Tom Moore has been promoted to become an honorary colonel for his 100th birthday, as his fund for the NHS passed £30 million.

The World War Two veteran raised the record-breaking amount of money for NHS Charities Together by walking laps of his garden during the coronavirus lockdown.

Speaking to Heart radio today, Tom said: “We always come out on the bright side whatever happens, we always win in the end.

“You’ve got to accept it’s a very difficult time, we’ve had difficult times before. We’ll come out with the sun shining at the end of the day.”

In a message of thanks to the nation, he added: "Reaching 100 is quite something. Reaching 100 with such interest in me and huge generosity from the public is very overwhelming.

"People keep saying what I have done is remarkable, however it's actually what you have done for me which is remarkable.

"I felt a little frustrated and disappointed after I broke my hip and it knocked my confidence. However, the past three weeks have put a spring back in my step. I have renewed purpose and have thoroughly enjoyed every second of this exciting adventure, but I can't keep walking forever.

Tom Moore and his daughter celebrate as the RAF fly past goes over their heads
Tom Moore and his daughter celebrate as the RAF fly past goes over their heads. Picture: PA

"I am going to spend my birthday with my family, both here in person and with my daughter remotely, and then I am going to have a few days' rest. My legs may be tired, but my mind is racing and I'm hoping to be back very soon with other ways in which I can help people, help others.

Captain Tom was made the honorary colonel of the Army Foundation College in Harrogate by Chief of the General Staff General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith.

The appointment has been approved by the Queen, with hopes that it will inspire the next generation of soldiers.

Captain Tom Moore has been made an honorary colonel to mark his 100th birthday
Captain Tom Moore has been made an honorary colonel to mark his 100th birthday. Picture: Getty

A letter confirming the news was presented to the veteran at his Bedfordshire home by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Miller, the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment.

Read more: Captain Tom Moore receives Pride of Britain award for enormous £29m fundraising effort

Read more: Public urged to place a Tommy in their window to remember VE Day

The now-centenarian, who was born in Keighley, West Yorkshire, served with the 8th Batallion The Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment, which has since become part of The Yorkshire Regiment.

He initially set out to raise £1,000 for the health service, but after his efforts captured the hearts and minds of not only the nation, but the rest of the world too, his fundraiser now stands just below £30 million.

Captain Tom's 100th birthday is being marked by two military flypasts, while a Great Western Railway intercity express train has been named in his honour. Elsewhere, the veteran's local postbox has also been repainted in the colours of the NHS.

More than 125,000 birthday cards from around the world have been sent to the war hero to mark his milestone day. They are being stored at his grandson's secondary school.

Along with his world record-breaking charity walk, the veteran has also become the oldest person reach number one in the UK Singles Chart with his cover of You'll Never Walk Alone - recorded with Michael Ball and the NHS Voices of Care Choir.

With his appointment to honorary colonel, the former officer will be invited to speak to junior soldiers at Harrogate.

He was also presented with a replacement Second World War Defence Medal - which he had previously misplaced - ahead of next week's VE Day celebrations.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "Captain Tom is simply inspirational and I am absolutely delighted the Army has honoured him in such a fitting manner.

"He not only embodies the spirit of our incredible veteran community, but the resolve of this nation.

"During these unprecedented times, he has reminded us all hardship is easier endured when we place the needs of others above our own, and approach everything with a smile.

"Like millions of others, I put my hand in my pocket for his incredible fundraising feat that will do such good for the NHS working on the front line of this battle right now.

"Ahead of VE Day 75, it is fitting that we are once again looking to the Second World War generation to show us the way."

General Carleton-Smith said: "His mature wisdom, no-nonsense attitude and humour in adversity make him an inspirational role model to generations young and old.

"I am delighted he has accepted the honorary colonelcy of the Army Foundation College in Harrogate, where our 16 and 17-year-olds are trained and educated to be the future leaders of the Army."