Prime Minister praises 'heroic efforts' of Captain Tom Moore, 99, as NHS fundraiser passes £16m

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

The Prime Minister has praised the "heroic efforts" of a 99-year-old veteran who has raised over £16 million for the NHS by walking 100 lengths of his garden.

Captain Tom Moore, who lives with his family in Bedfordshire, completed the last of the 25-metre laps on Thursday morning and was cheered as he finished the 100th lap.

By Thursday lunchtime, the fundraising figure for NHS Charities Together had hit £13 million. By Thursday at 11pm, more than £16 million had been raised.

His achievements – which started at a modest target of £1,000 last week, ahead of his 100th birthday on April 30 – have been praised by Downing Street.

Boris Johnson said Captain Moore had “captured the heart of the nation” and “embodied the spirit of the whole country in doing their bit for the battle against coronavirus”.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman told a Westminster briefing on Thursday that the Mr Johnson "will certainly be looking at ways to recognise Tom’s heroic efforts.”

“From his military contributions to his support for NHS staff, Tom has demonstrated a lifetime of bravery and compassion," the spokesperson for Number 10 said.

Captain Tom Moore has raised more than £13 million for the NHS. Credit: PA

Matt Hancock had singled out Caption Moore's incredible efforts during the Wednesday evening press conference at Downing Street.

In his opening address, the Health Secretary said: “I want to pay a special tribute today to Captain Tom Moore.

“Captain Tom, you’re an inspiration to us all, and we thank you.”

At that point, donations had surpassed £8 million, but by just after 11pm on Wednesday the figure had risen by another £2 million.

The military veteran wrote on Twitter: “10 MILLION POUND! Virtutis Fortuna Comes.”

Mr Moore told ITV News: "I didn't ever dream of that sort of money when we started off as a little family joke, to see if we could raise a £1,000 and it just went on and on."

He said as long as people contribute to the NHS, he will continue walking the laps of his garden.

"I shall be going walking so long as the money comes in for the service, I'll walk, if they contribute, I'll walk," the veteran added.

Earlier, he told BBC One: “I think that’s absolutely enormous.

“At no time when we started off with this exercise did we anticipate we’d get anything near that sort of money.

“It just shows that people have such high regard for matters of our National Health Service and it’s really amazing that people have paid so much money.”

Mr Moore began raising funds to thank NHS staff who treated him for a broken hip.

His daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, told the BBC that the amount raised was “beyond our wildest expectations”.

The veteran has been thanked by Health Secretary Matt Hancock. Credit: PA

Actor and singer Michael Ball recorded a congratulations message for Mr Moore. The broadcaster told ITV News that the veteran was demonstrating "true Great British Spirit".

Elsewhere, Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas praised Captain Tom on his achievement. The cyclist - recording his message while on an exercise bike - said Mr Moore was a "true inspiration".

While comedian David Walliams wrote on Twitter: "Once a hero always a hero."

When the JustGiving page went live last week, they thought their £1,000 target was a “real stretch”, she said.

“No words can express our gratitude to the British public for getting behind Tom, for making this into a heartfelt story,” she added.

“He’s a stoic Yorkshireman, he’s an unruffled straight-down-the-line kind of person and has embraced this adventure as the next stage of his life.

“I believe that life is all about purpose, we all need purpose, and, whilst he’s had a life full of purpose, he did fall and break his hip and became much less independent than he had been for the preceding 98 years, and what you have done, the British public, and everyone who’s supported him, is giving him his next purpose.

“He is articulate, he’s alive, he’s doing this and I think he’ll do this until everyone says, ‘Stop, don’t do it any more’.”

Originally from Keighley in West Yorkshire, Mr Moore trained as a civil engineer before enlisting in the Army for the Second World War, rising to captain and serving in India and Burma.

Meanwhile, an eight-year-old girl has started an online campaign for children to make birthday cards for Mr Moore’s 100th birthday.

Reegan Davies, from Port Talbot, South Wales, set a target of 1,500 virtual cards after posting a video online to thank him for his fundraising efforts.

She says in the video posted on Twitter: “You’ve got to make a birthday card for Tom, any social media you post it, and tag #makeacardfortom”.

The public can also send birthday cards to the 99-year-old for his 100th birthday, by sending it to Captain Tom Moore, C/O Post Office Limited, 67 Bedford Road, Marston Moretaine, MK43 0LA, Bedfordshire, England.