Monday, September 25

WWII veteran, 99, raises £12 mln for UK health workers


Moore, with a Guard of Honour formed by members of the 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, as he completes his 100th lap of his garden in Marston Moretaine, north of London, to raise money for Britain’s National Health Service (NHS). — AFP photo

LONDON: A 99-year-old British World War II veteran on Thursday completed 100 laps of his garden in a fundraising challenge for healthcare staff that has captured the heart of the nation, raising more than £12 million (US$15 million, 13.8 million euros).

“Incredible and now words fail me,” said Tom Moore, a captain who served in India, after finishing the laps of his 25-metre garden with the help of his walking frame.

Moore initially set himself the goal of raising £1,000 for a National Health Service charity in time for his 100th birthday at the end of the month, after receiving treatment for a broken hip and cancer.

But his efforts – a rare bit of good news during the global coronavirus pandemic that has killed almost 13,000 people in Britain alone – have made him a star in his own country and abroad.

“Thank you all for your amazing support. It has been a memorable experience. Thank you so much,” he wrote on Twitter.

The final lap of his garden in Bedfordshire, south England, was met with a guard of honour from the Yorkshire Regiment and broadcast live on British TV.

“I’m surrounded by the right kind of people. I’m feeling fine, I hope you are all feeling fine too,” Moore told the BBC.

Previously he has spoken of his admiration for medical staff.

“In the last war it was soldiers in uniform on the front line. This time our army are the doctors and nurses (in) uniforms. We will survive this,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain earlier this week.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock called Moore ‘an inspiration to us all’

“This is an awful crisis, but there are some little shafts of light. Captain Tom, he served his country in the past, and he’s serving his country now, both by raising that money for the NHS… but also cheering us all up.  We all need a bit of cheering up sometimes,” he told BBC television.

More than 645,000 people have contributed funds, with the rate of donations causing the JustGiving page to temporarily crash.

His efforts have been lauded around the world.

“Captain Moore, we are truly impressed on this side of the pond. I think you’re remarkable, what you’ve done is an inspiration,” said US TV star Judge Judy in a video message.

“Congratulations on your fantastic success,” added Dutch violinist and conductor Andre Rieu. “I invite you and your whole family to one of my concerts.” — AFP