LONDON: Hundred-year-old British World War II veteran Captain Tom Moore is to be knighted after raising nearly US$40 million for healthcare charities, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling him a “beacon of light” during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The knighthood, which brings with it the title of “Sir”, will be formally issued by Queen Elizabeth II.
Moore set himself the goal of walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday in April.
He was hoping to raise £1,000 for National Health Service charities as a thank you for the treatment he received while suffering from cancer and a broken hip.
But the money started pouring in after his effort drew national and then international interest, a rare good news story in the middle of a global health emergency.
“Colonel Tom’s fantastic fundraising broke records, inspired the whole country and provided us all with a beacon of light through the fog of coronavirus,” Johnson said Tuesday announcing the knighthood.
“On behalf of everyone who has been moved by his incredible story, I want to say a huge thank you. He’s a true national treasure.”
The army had made Moore, who served as an engineer in India and Burma during World War II, an honorary colonel.
Moore’s efforts and humility propelled him to national fame, with a high-speed train named after him and Royal Air Force jets performing a flypast for his birthday on April 30.
Moore became the oldest artist to reach No 1 in the UK music singles charts, singing a cover of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” with British stage star Michael Ball and an NHS choir.
“Arise Captain SIR Tom Moore!!!! I couldn’t be more thrilled and proud,” Ball tweeted.
“A fitting honour for a true British hero. So well deserved and bloody marvellous. Well done and thank you for everything Sir.”
Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer also congratulated Moore.
“In these difficult times for our country, Tom brought inspiration to millions and helped all of us to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of our NHS,” Starmer said in a statement.
“After serving his country during the war, Tom recognised that today’s heroes are our frontline NHS and care workers.
“In his actions, Tom embodied the national solidarity which has grown throughout this crisis, and showed us that everyone can play their part in helping build a better future.”
Moore now holds two world records: raising the most money doing an individual charity walk and as the oldest person to top the UK singles charts.