We can only hope this latest controversy does not overshadow Captain Tom's achievements and legacy

7 July 2023, 13:54

Captain Tom's legacy must not be soured by the antics of his daughter and son-in-law
Captain Tom's legacy must not be soured by the antics of his daughter and son-in-law. Picture: Getty

By StephenRigley

During the dark days of the lockdown Britain needed a hero.

Please forgive me for recalling those bleak days when thousands of our friends and family members succumbed to covid each day.

Millions more of us were locked in our homes. It seems difficult to believe now but we were separated from many of our loved ones and lived under the spectre of police drones scouring the countryside for anyone daring to sit on a park bench.

But commeth the hour, commeth the man.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. We needed one and Captain Sir Tom raised £38 million for the NHS by walking 100 laps around the lawn before his 100th birthday by walking round his garden.

How utterly sad that this great achievement and legacy is now - for some - in danger of being framed around a swimming pool and spa complex his daughter has built at her home.

Firstly, there is no suggestion that the family have done anything unlawful nor indeed used any of the charity's funds to build the swimming pool.

But as a £250-an-hour lifestyle coach surely Captain Sir Tom's daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore must surely be aware of how the row looks to the public.

It is not that long ago that Mrs Ingram-Moore tried to appoint herself the £85,000-a-year head of a charity set up in Sir Captain Tom's name and funded by public donation. She had previously tried for a £100,000-a-year salary which was rejected by the Charity Commission.

These optics did not look good.

Just one month after his death, the Charity Commission opened a case into the Captain Tom Foundation, started by his family.

Investigations have escalated and the charity is no longer receiving donations while the inquiry continues.

There have never been any questions over the handling of the money raised by Captain Sir Tom which was donated straight to NHS Charities Together’s Covid-19 Urgent Appeal and has never been under investigation.

When Captain Sir Tom died in February 2021 there was genuine sadness and hope that his concern for others would not be forgotten when the pandemic moves from everyday life into the history books.

This week as the row over the swimming pool shows no sign of abating, Mrs Ingram-Moore was on holiday.

She posted a picture of a happy, smiling family seemingly oblivious to the row back home.

Now, no-one is saying she shouldn't go on holiday but it seemed a strange to post such a carefree picture.

Captain Sir Tom was a hero. His sponsored walk leaning on his walking frame captured the public imagination when the future seemed uncertain and bleak.

To say he was an inspiration is putting it mildly.

But this latest row is not a good look. We can only hope this does not overshadow his achievements.