LONDON – Tom Moore, the formidable 100-year-old army veteran whose charity walks raised $ 45 million for UK hospitals and made him a national symbol of picking in a country ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, died Tuesday.
His death was announced on his Twitter account.
Mr. Moore had been treated for pneumonia in recent weeks and had tested positive for the coronavirus last month, his daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, said on Twitter on January 31. He was taken to a hospital because he needed help breathing, she said, and his condition then worsened.
Brave, spirited and funny, Mr Moore meandered 82 steps at once into the hearts of people across Britain – the number it took to run the length of a brick patio next to his garden in Marston Moretaine, a village an hour north London. He did 100 laps before turning 100 last April.
Mr. Moore's achievement, which came out of a challenge from his son-in-law, became a media sensation when Mrs. Ingram-Moore published about her father's walks and started an online fundraiser for the National Health Service. With donors including Prince William calling him a “one-man financing machine,” Mr. Moore soon put on £ 32.8 million, or $ 45 million.
In the process, Mr. Moore became a pop culture phenomenon. His walks were broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NBC and Al Jazeera, and his face became a front-page staple of British tabloids. Those newspapers called him Captain Tom, his military rank until he was named honorary colonel by the Army Foundation College.
He negotiated a multi-book deal, recorded a song on the charts and got a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II, who came out of seclusion for the first time since the pandemic began taking credit at Windsor Castle in July.
At the age of 94, the Queen formed a striking couple with Mr. Moore – living ties to a British World War II history invoked during the pandemic as an example of the courage and stoicism the country needs today. As a princess, Elizabeth worked as a young driver and truck mechanic during the war, and Mr. Moore was a decorated army officer who fought in the infamous Burma campaign.
The last days of Mr. Moore was somewhat clouded by criticism of a trip he and his family took to the Caribbean island of Barbados in December. Some have questioned on social media why a 100-year-old man would go on vacation abroad at a time when the government was discouraging such travel due to the pandemic.
Mr Moore's defenders pointed out that the flight, which was paid for by British Airways, took place before Prime Minister Boris Johnson tightened up English lockdown rules on Dec. 19 after scientists discovered a rapidly spreading new variant of the virus.
There is no evidence that Mr. Moore fell ill during the trip. On December 18, he appeared in a photo on his Twitter feed, wearing shorts, with the caption “Enjoying a wonderful family day in the Barbados sun”.
Born in Keighley, a Yorkshire village, into a family of builders, Mr Moore was trained as a civil engineer. In 1940, at the age of 20, he was conscripted and assigned to the Duke of Wellington & # 39; s Regiment. Stationed first in Cornwall, in the south west of England, he was selected for officer training and sent to India. He trained Indian recruits to ride motorcycles, a lifelong passion he picked up as a boy.
Mr Moore was later sent to Burma, now known as Myanmar. While there, the British counterattacked the Japanese occupiers in a coastal area now known as Rakhine. It was jungle warfare, fought against a fierce enemy in dire conditions, rife with tropical diseases and insects.
"If you took your coat off at night to hang it, you had to shake it in the morning to shake out the spiders and the other little creatures," said Mr. Moore in an interview with The New York. Times in May.
But he added, "I don't remember getting scared at the time."
Mr. Moore returned home after the war and built a comfortable life as a manager of a concrete company. He remained energetic until his late 90s, mowing the lawn, tending a greenhouse and driving his own car. But two years ago, he fell in his kitchen, breaking his hip and a rib and puncturing a lung.
His hospitalization brought him a lasting appreciation for the doctors and nurses of the National Health Service. With the service struggling with an influx of coronavirus patients last spring, raising money for the beleaguered personnel seemed like a worthy cause.
"Never in 100 years when we started did we expect this amount of money to be raised," said Mr Moore.
Some of the money he has raised will be used to create therapeutic facilities where doctors and nurses can relax after work treating Covid patients. Mr Moore said he saw his fundraising as a way to support health workers, just as he remembered the British backing him and his fellow soldiers during the war.
"At the time, people my age fought on the front lines and the general public was behind us," said Mr. Moore. "In this case, the doctors and nurses and all the medical people are the front line. It's up to my generation to back it up, just as we were supported."
Even after turning 100, Mr. Moore had not lost his sense of adventure. In addition to Barbados, he expressed a wish to return to India.
"That's something I'd love to do, but at 100," he said businesslike, "you've got a set time limit."