Tributes paid after death of British lockdown hero 'Captain Tom'

·3-min read

Tributes flooded in from around the world on Tuesday following the death of Captain Sir Tom Moore, the 100-year-old British military veteran who won hearts with his fundraising during the pandemic.

Moore, who raised nearly £33 million ($45 million, 37 million euros) for UK health service charities, died in hospital in southern England on Tuesday morning after testing positive for coronavirus last month.

His daughters, Hannah Ingram-Moore and Lucy Teixeira, said the last year of his life, when he shot to international fame for his selfless efforts, had been "nothing short of remarkable".

"He was rejuvenated and experienced things he'd only ever dreamed of," they said in a statement, noting they had spent the last hours of his life reminiscing together.

"We shared laughter and tears together."

Queen Elizabeth II, who awarded him a knighthood last year, sent a private message to his family.

"Her Majesty very much enjoyed meeting Captain Sir Tom and his family at Windsor last year," it added.

- 'Beacon of hope' -

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who spoke to Ingram-Moore to offer his condolences, called Moore "not just a national inspiration but a beacon of hope for the world" and "a hero in the truest sense of the word".

"In the dark days of the Second World War he fought for freedom and in the face of this country's deepest post-war crisis he united us all, he cheered us all up, and he embodied the triumph of the human spirit," Johnson said.

The United States added to the global tributes.

"We join the United Kingdom and the world in honoring the memory of Captain Sir Tom Moore, who inspired millions through his life and his actions," the White House said on Twitter.

Meanwhile United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric expressed the condolences of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who spoke to Moore on his 100th birthday on April 30.

"During this pandemic, his selflessness, compassion, and determination to help others was an inspiration to people everywhere and will remain so," Dujarric said.

- 'Soldier to the end' -

Moore was admitted to hospital on Sunday after testing positive for Covid-19 on January 22.

He had not been vaccinated because he had been receiving treatment for pneumonia, his family said.

Moore, born in northern England in 1920, raised the record-breaking sum for NHS (National Health Service) charities last year by walking lengths of his garden, and then became the oldest man to top the UK music charts with a cover of "You'll Never Walk Alone".

He had initially set out to raise £1,000 in gratitude for the treatment he had received for skin cancer and a broken hip, but ended up attracting donations from 1.5 million supporters.

His efforts helped galvanise Britons as the country grappled with the early days of the pandemic, and were credited with giving others hope and help at a time of need and uncertainty.

The British Army paid its own tribute to Moore, who served in Asia during World War II, calling him "an exceptional man and soldier to the end".

Moore's 100th birthday last year was marked by a Royal Air Force flypast, beamed live across the nation, while some 140,000 people sent him cards.

He rounded off a remarkable 2020 with a trip to Barbados with his family, donated by British Airways.

On Tuesday, landmarks including the London Eye, Wembley Stadium and Blackpool Tower were lit up to honour the centenarian's passing.

"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," his daughters said in their statement.