Friday, February 12, 2021

Captain Tom, a man for our times.


 In early April 2020 few people outside his immediate family had heard of Captain Thomas Moore, a retired army captain and businessman.

Tom was a Yorkshireman by birth, and they are tough folk from that part of the country. My Granny was from Yorkshire, also known as God’s own country, and she lived until she was 106. She lived  on her own until she was  105. She once called my mum to say that she had fallen over in the back garden, and  had  crawled   back into the house because ‘she had a sore shoulder’. She had fractured her arm in six places but wasn’t going to let that hold her back from putting her washing out for a good airing.

 So, back to Mr Moore. On the 6th of April 2029 as the covid pandemic had us all in lockdown Cpt Tom thought he’d challenge himself to complete 100 lengths of his 25 metres garden, doing ten a day with the help of his walking frame.  His idea was to fund raise and support the  NHS. And that was ‘100th Birthday Walk’. He  planned to raise £1000 then he’d hang up his walking frame but as that target had been reached within four days, he  raised the amount to £5000, then £500 000. As  news got round, he sparked the imagination  of the country. The 100 year old  did  a spot on national radio and then joined twitter to express joy at the amount of money being raised at a time when… well you have all see the images  from your own hospitals; nurses and doctors tired out, stressed out,  faces cut and bruised by   PP4 masks,  black eyed through stress and over work.


Tom achieved his goal of 100 lengths by 16t April watched, at a socially correct distance by a battalion of the Yorkshire regiment. At that  point he said he was feeling good and would try for another 100!

By the day of his 100th Birthday he had raised £30 million.

Yes,  £30 000 000, with the gift aid scheme, it was closer to £40 000 000.

This unassuming, cheery little man ( with a wicked sense of humour) was then  voted  BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award,  he made a number one single. On  the 17th July 2020 he became Captain Sir Tom Moore when he was personally knighted by the queen. GQ magazine named Moore their  "Inspiration of the Year" and he was on the front cover. The Royal Mail produced a postmark in his honour. On his birthday he had a flypast from a Hurricane and a Spitfire in the morning, and two Army Air Corps helicopters, a Wildcat and an Apache, in the afternoon. Other birthday celebrations came from Boris Johnson,  Prince Charles and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres.  Police dog puppies, police horse foals,  search and rescue power boats and hospital landscaped gardens were all suddenly named  Captain Tom.


Funds raised were spent on well-being packs for National Health Service staff, devices to enable hospital patients to keep in contact with family members while the hospitals were in lockdown and then more support in the community once the patients were released.

Here’s a quote:

“They're all so brave. Because every morning or every night they're putting themselves into harm's way, and I think you've got to give them full marks for that effort. We're a little bit like having a war at the moment. But the doctors and the nurses, they're all on the front line, and all of us behind, we've got to supply them and keep them going with everything that they need, so that they can do their jobs even better than they're doing now.”

I think the country held its breath when he was admitted to  hospital after catching pneumonia, then testing positive for covid in late January 2021. I  recall it flashing up on the TV screen as a matter of national importance. 

He died on the 2nd of February.

The flags above 10 and 11 Downing Street flew at  half-mast as a sign of respect. Both  Houses of Parliament observed a one-minute silence in honour of Moore on 3 February.

Every patient who came into the practice that day was talking about him. He seemed to have touched everybody’s hearts in a very genuine way. The way the disease took him, just made the county a bit darker.


Caro Ramsay


  1. One person can certainly make a difference.

  2. What a wonderful story, Caro, and what and inspiration. He never stopped trying to make a difference. When I grow up, I want to be like him!