By Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — 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 health-care workers has died after testing positive for COVID-19. He was 100.
His family announced his death on Twitter, posting a picture of him behind his walker in a happy moment.
“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,’’ the family’s statement read. “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.’’
Captain Tom, as he became known in newspaper headlines and TV interviews, set out to raise £1,000 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. He raised some £33 million.
For three weeks in April, fans were greeted with daily videos of Captain Tom, stooped with age, doggedly pushing his walker across 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 honor guard lined the path. The celebration continued on his birthday a few days later, when two World War II–era fighters flew overhead in tribute. Moore, a plaid blanket over his shoulders, pumped a fist as they roared past.
In July, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in a socially distanced ceremony at Windsor Castle, west of London. The 94-year-old monarch used an impossibly long sword to confer the honor as Moore, wearing his wartime medals on his chest, leaned on his walker and beamed.
“I have been overwhelmed by the many honors 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, returning to England after Pamela became ill.
After his wife died in 2006, Moore moved to the village of Marston Mortaine in Bedfordshire to live with his younger daughter, Hannah, and her family.
The former motorcycle racer finally slowed down after he fell and broke his hip in 2018. A walker replaced the Škoda Yeti he drove until he was 98, but he kept moving.
During a backyard barbecue in early April of last year, Moore’s family challenged him to walk the entire length of the 25-meter driveway. After he made it to the end, his son-in-law encouraged him to keep going, offering to pay a pound for every lap and suggesting a goal of 100 laps by Moore’s 100th birthday.
Things snowballed from there.