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Arise Sir Tom! Queen knights 100-yr-old fundraising Captain

By Aditi Khanna
July 17, 2020 21:03 IST
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Captain Tom Moore, the 100-year-old war veteran who served in India during World War II and became a national hero in the United Kingdom for raising over £32 million (Rs 300 crore) for healthcare charities by completing 100 laps around his garden using a walking frame, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in the grounds of Windsor Castle on Friday.

IMAGE: Britain's Queen Elizabeth awards Captain Tom Moore with the insignia of Knight Bachelor at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, Britain. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Pool/Reuters

Captain Moore said it was the "most special of days" as he arrived at the royal residence in Berkshire where the 94-year-old monarch has been isolating during the coronavirus lockdown.

 

She undertook her first socially-distanced face to face public engagement as she performed the symbolic sword ceremony to formally knight Captain Sir Tom Moore. She used a sword that belonged to her father, King George VI, to bestow the insignia of Knight Bachelor.

While the annual Queen's Birthday Honours List was postponed in June due to the lockdown this year, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's had announced Sir Moore's special nomination in recognition of his dedication to raise funds for the National Health Service and other charities.

The UK prime minister described Captain Moore as a "true national treasure" who "provided us all with a beacon of light through the fog of coronavirus".

"On behalf of everyone who has been moved by his incredible story, I want to say a huge thank you," Johnson said back in May.

IMAGE: The function to honour Captain Tom Moore was a small one -- with only his family present. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Pool/Reuters

The knighthood followed his appointment as an honorary colonel to mark his centenary on April 30.

When the veteran set out to walk 100 laps of his garden in Marston Moretaine in Bedfordshire before his 100th birthday, he was aiming to raise a humble £1,000 (Rs 93,300).

But his determination to complete the challenge while using a walking frame captured the public's imagination during the pandemic and within days he had raised tens of millions of pounds, with the figure continuing to grow even after he had completed the 100th lap.

IMAGE: Captain Tom Moore initially planned to raise £1,000, but landed up raising £32 million. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Pool/Reuters

An online petition calling for him to be knighted received more than a million signatures and he was showered with nearly 150,000 birthday cards.

Conscripted to the 8th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment in 1940, Moore served in India and Burma and then instructed at the Armoured Fighting Vehicle School. After the war, he became managing director of a concrete company.

The war veteran has since set up a foundation and a website called captaintom.org to raise money to combat issues such as loneliness and help fund more hospices. He also has his own Twitter account and a publishing contract.

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Aditi Khanna
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