LONDON (Reuters) – Captain Tom Moore, who became a national hero in Britain after raising more than 33 million pounds ($40 million) for the National Health Service in the run-up to his 100th birthday, is to be knighted.
Moore becomes “Sir Tom” after a special nomination from Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The World War Two veteran raised the record sum by painstakingly completing 100 laps of his garden with the aid of a walking frame, becoming a symbol of British endurance in the face of the adversity of the coronavirus crisis.
Moore said it was an outstanding honour and that he was looking forward to meeting Queen Elizabeth, 94.
“I hope she’s not very heavy handed with the sword,” Moore said. “By then I might be rather a poor old weak soul.”
A knighthood is bestowed by the monarch tapping a sword on the recipient’s shoulders.
Asked what he will tell the queen, Moore said: “Any discussion between me and the queen will have to be kept secret.”
Last month he quipped that he would find it funny to be known as “Sir Thomas Moore” – a reference to the Tudor statesman Sir Thomas More.
“I am overawed by the fact that this has happened to me,” he said. The honour is the latest bestowed on Moore. For his 100th birthday last month, he was made an honorary colonel and an honorary member of the England cricket team.
SMILE AND BE KIND
Johnson said Moore had inspired the country and provided “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’. He’s a true national treasure,” Johnson said.
Raised in Yorkshire, northern England, Moore served in India, Burma and Sumatra during World War Two.
His walking achievement, which came amid a soaring COVID-19 UK death toll that now is above 43,000, won the hearts of many in Britain and beyond.
He urged young people to look forward with hope.
“There’s a future for everyone,” he said. “Give everybody a little smile and see if they’ll smile back.”
“You have got to look forward to the fact that things will improve as they always do: things will get better and we will have a lovely golden sky and hear the larks singing again beautifully,” he said.
(Reporting by Stephen Addison; Editing by William James, Guy Faulconbridge and Giles Elgood)