The Handbook
The Handbook

Yesterday Britain lost a national hero and icon. Captain Sir Tom Moore passed away surrounded by his family yesterday morning after a short battle against COVID-19 and pneumonia. His family lost a much loved father, grandfather and great grandfather, and the nation lost an inspiration and role model.

The extraordinary thing is that we didn’t even know who the 100 year old ‘national treasure’ was just a year ago. But then most of us still hadn’t heard of the coronavirus and the very word COVID-19 hadn’t been coined. A year changes a lot. But so do 100.

Captain Tom was born in 1920 and served in Burma during the Second World War rising to the rank of captain. After the war he ran a concrete company, leading a management buyout of the firm in 1983. He also raced motorbikes competitively.

A relatively impressive career, but he is a household name because of his fundraising efforts last spring. Then 99 years old he raised £39m for the NHS by walking around the garden of his care home.

The effort was a much needed national morale boost at a time when we were at what was then the peak of the pandemic, with thousands dying each day and our Prime Minister in ITU. In an extraordinary time Captain Tom was Britain’s inspiration.

Captain Tom was honoured for his efforts by the army, who made him an honorary colonel, and by the Queen who granted him a knighthood in a rare private ceremony at Windsor Castle.

Continuing to raise money for good causes he continued to inspire...

And yet his fundraising efforts didn’t stop there. When the pandemic worsened in autumn Sir Tom, now 100, was back on his feet and gunning for a re-do. Continuing to raise money for good causes he continued to inspire.

News of his condition became public earlier this week when his daughter posted on social media that he’d been taken to hospital.

The centurion had been suffering from pneumonia and so had been unable to receive his COVID-19 vaccination. Unfortunately in his frail state he deteriorated quickly.

In a statement, his daughters, Hannah Ingram-Moore and Lucy Teixeira, told the world: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our dear father, Capt Sir Tom Moore. We are so grateful that we were with him during the last hours of his life; Hannah, Benjie and Georgia by his bedside and Lucy on FaceTime.

“We spent hours chatting to him, reminiscing about our childhood and our wonderful mother. We shared laughter and tears together.

“The last year of our father’s life was nothing short of remarkable. He was rejuvenated and experienced things he’d only ever dreamed of. Whilst he’d been in so many hearts for just a short time, he was an incredible father and grandfather, and he will stay alive in our hearts forever.

“The care our father received from the NHS and carers over the last few weeks and years of his life has been extraordinary. They have been unfalteringly professional, kind and compassionate and have given us many more years with him than we ever would have imagined.”

Tributes to the hero have flooded onto social media, with everyone from the Queen and Prime Minister to individuals paying their respects.

Labour leader Kier Starmer tweeted “This is incredibly sad news. Cpt Tom Moore put others first at a time of national crisis and was a beacon of hope for millions. Britain has lost a hero.”

Meanwhile unlikely collaborator, singer Michael Ball who had a number 1 single with Sir Tom wrote “Rest in peace Cpt Tom Moore. A wonderful life so well lived and a hero and fighter to the very end. So very, very sad. Love and prayers for Hannah-I-M and all the family.”

The condolences continue to pour.

Meanwhile, Sir Tom’s foundation will, of course, continue to take donations…

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