Britain on Wednesday paid tribute to Captain Tom Moore, who touched the hearts of millions by offering a simple message of hope and self-sacrifice during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Moore, who raised tens of millions of pounds for the National Health Service by walking up and down his garden, died on Tuesday in Bedford Hospital after suffering COVID-19 and pneumonia.
He had been fighting cancer for five years.
Outside his home in Marston Moretaine, 50 miles (80kms) north of London, children laid flowers, one message read: “Rest in Peace Captain Tom. We love you. X.’’
“You will always be our hero,’’ read another message. “Thank you for your warmth and your wonderful smile. Rest in Peace.’’
His picture was shown on Piccadilly Circus in central London while the London Eye, Wembley Stadium and the Blackpool Tower shone lights of honour.
Condolences poured in from Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and even the White House while soccer players, school children and his family shed tears for a man who millions consider a lockdown hero.
Amid the death and gloom of the COVID-19 pandemic, war veteran Moore’s wit and inspiration struck a chord with millions as his message to the world was that the sun would shine again.
“For all those people who are finding it difficult at the moment, the sun will shine on you again and the clouds will go away,’’ said Moore, dressed in a blazer and tie and displaying his war medals, after completing his walk in April.
“You’ve all got to remember that we will get through it in the end, it will all be right, it might take time,’’ Moore said. “At the end of the day we shall all be ok again.’’
Raised in Yorkshire, northern England, Moore served in India, Burma and Sumatra during World War Two.
Always polite and dapper in public, Moore had a mischievous humour.
When asked about speculation he would be knighted by the queen, he quipped that he would find it funny to be known as Sir Thomas Moore, a reference to the Tudor statesman.
He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth at a ceremony at Windsor Castle.
“Her Majesty very much enjoyed meeting Captain Sir Tom and his family at Windsor in 2020, ’’ Buckingham Palace said.
“Her thoughts and those of the Royal Family are with them.’’
Health Minister Matt Hancock said the country would mark his memory.
“We should find a way to make sure that we mark the memory of Captain Tom and thank him for the contributions that he made for the NHS (health service),’’ Hancock told BBC television.
“He touched the heart of the nation and we should remember that.’’(Reuters/NAN)