BEDFORD, England (Reuters) -Prime Minister Boris Johnson was among a host of well-wishers from Britain and beyond willing record-breaking fundraiser Captain Tom Moore to pull through after the centenarian was admitted to hospital with COVID-19.
Moore, who raised more than 30 million pounds ($41 million)for health service workers by walking 100 lengths of his garden during last year’s lockdown, was admitted to Bedford hospital after testing positive for the virus, his daughter said on Sunday.
“I spoke to the family last night, and all I can say is Captain Tom Moore has been an inspiration to everybody in this country during this pandemic,” Johnson told reporters during a visit to northern England.
“Our thoughts and our prayers are now with him and with his family,” he said.
The World War Two veteran caught the public’s imagination in April, just before his 100th birthday, when he was filmed doing his sponsored walk with the help of a walking frame around his garden in the village of Marston Moretaine, 80kms (50 miles) north of London.
He hoped to raise 1,000 pounds. Instead, he raised about 33 million pounds for the National Health Service, broke two Guinness world records, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, scored a No. 1 single, wrote an autobiography and helped set up a charity.
“Pray for Tom”, the Sun tabloid’s front page headline said, a message echoed by other papers which carried prominent pictures and stories about Moore.
Moore went on vacation with his family to Barbados in December but his daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, said that over the last few weeks he had been treated for pneumonia, and last week tested positive for COVID-19.
“He was at home with us until today when he needed additional help with his breathing. He is being treated in a ward, although he is not in ICU (intensive care unit),” she said on Twitter.
Britain is currently vaccinating all its elderly population against the coronavirus, but Sky News quoted a family representative as saying Moore had not yet received a shot because he was being treated for pneumonia.
Messages of support came in from politicians and the likes of the British army, the England soccer team and Michael Ball, with whom he joined to record a number one single with a cover version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.
“My thoughts are with @captaintommoore and his loving family and friends,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, said on Twitter.
“You and the @NHSuk health professionals supporting you are true heroes and shining examples of the spirit needed to overcome #COVID19.”
(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Alistair Smout and Janet Lawrence)