LONDON — Capt. Tom Moore, the beloved British war veteran who walked the length of his garden 100 times to raise money ahead of his 100th birthday in April has received a knighthood for his fundraising initiative, which brought in about $40 million for Britain’s National Health Service charities.
Last month, more than half a million people signed a petition asking for Moore to be knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his efforts. Now, it appears their wish has been granted.
Reacting to news he was to be knighted on Wednesday, Moore, who served in India during World War II, told BBC Breakfast it was an “outstanding honor” and said he was “delighted.” On social media, many used the hashtag #SirCaptainTomMoore to celebrate his new title and achievement.
Widely hailed as a “legend,” Moore has become a national and international treasure in recent weeks, with many branding him Britain’s light amid the darkness of the deadly coronavirus pandemic that has so far claimed at least 35,000 lives in the United Kingdom.
On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said of Moore: “You have inspired us all with your fantastic fundraising efforts. On behalf of the whole country, I want to say a huge thank you.”
Moore’s rise to fame began in April when he set out to raise £1,000 (nearly $1,250) for the health service and its staff during the health crisis by walking the 82-foot length of his garden back and forth 100 times, using his walker for support. He sought to complete the laps ahead of his birthday on April 30.
But just 24 hours after Moore started, he had shattered his target, raising the equivalent of $8,750. From then on, donations poured in from all corners of the world, even causing his online fundraising page to crash repeatedly. Moore continued to up his target and vowed to keep on walking.
Moore completed his final lap two weeks ahead of schedule, as the figure hit $15 million. On April 30, his fundraising page closed, the final total a staggering £32,796,510 ($40 million) pledged from over one million donors worldwide.
The veteran’s life and achievements were widely celebrated on his milestone 100th birthday last month with a flyby above his home in Bedfordshire, 50 miles north of London, and an honorary promotion from captain to colonel as tributes around the world flooded in.
Celebrities including champion boxer Anthony Joshua and racing driver Lewis Hamilton have praised his actions, while Britain’s royals have also hailed his story as “incredible.”
Prince William, who is second in line to the British throne after his father, Prince Charles, called Moore a “one-man fundraising machine.”
“Arise #SirTomMoore! Congratulations to @captaintommoore, on being knighted following his fundraising efforts for #NHS Charities,” the British Army tweeted on Wednesday along with many others who took to social media to congratulate the 100-year-old.
“I really do thank you from the bottom of my heart” Moore said on Wednesday in a message to those who have supported his journey.
On Wednesday morning, many of Britain’s tabloid newspapers ran photos of Moore on their front pages.
“Arise Sir Tom,” read the cover of the Telegraph, as The Sun declared him a “hero.”