LONDON (Reuters) – Captain Tom Moore, the British World War Two veteran who raised millions of pounds for health service workers on the frontline of the battle against the coronavirus, has died aged 100 after contracting COVID-19, his family said on Tuesday.
Moore struck a chord with locked-down Britain by walking around his garden with the help of a frame to raise 38.9 million pounds ($53 million) for the National Health Service.
His endeavour and wit spread joy amid the grim news of the coronavirus outbreak: Moore’s message to the world was that the sun would shine again and that the clouds would clear.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our dear father, Captain Sir Tom Moore,” his daughters said in a statement.
Moore died on Tuesday morning at Bedford Hospital in central England. He had tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 22 and was fighting pneumonia.
Over the last five years, Moore had been receiving treatment for prostate and skin cancer, his family said. He had not been vaccinated against COVID-19 due to the other medication he was taking.
When he started his sponsored walk at his home in the village of Marston Moretaine, 80km (50 miles) north of London, he hoped to raise 1,000 pounds.
Instead, he raised millions of pounds for the National Health Service, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, broke two Guinness world records, scored a No. 1 single in the pop charts, wrote an autobiography and helped set up a charity.
“We share our deepest condolences and sympathies with his family and loved ones at this incredibly sad time,” Bedford Hospital’s chief nurse Liz Lees said.
“We’d also like to say thank you, and pay tribute to Captain Sir Tom Moore for the remarkable contribution he has made to the NHS.”
SUNSHINE DURING LOCKDOWN
Raised in Yorkshire, northern England, Moore served in India, Burma and Sumatra during World War Two.
Queen Elizabeth II, who knighted Moore, will send a message of private condolence to the family. Elizabeth “very much enjoyed meeting Captain Sir Tom” and her thoughts were with his family, Buckingham Palace said.
“The last year of our father’s life was nothing short of remarkable. He was rejuvenated and experienced things he’d only ever dreamed of,” his daughters said.
“Whilst he’d been in so many hearts for just a short time, he was an incredible father and grandfather, and he will stay alive in our hearts forever.”
Politicians paid tribute to Moore.
“I’m so sorry to hear that Captain Tom has passed away in hospital,” British health minister Matt Hancock said on Twitter. “He was a great British hero that showed the best of our country.”