By GUY DAVIES, ABC News
(LONDON) — The 100-year-old veteran affectionately known as “Captain Tom” will receive a knighthood after raising tens of millions of dollars for Britain’s National Health Service.
Tom Moore — who was recently given an honorary promotion to the rank of “Colonel” on his 100th birthday — originally set out to raise just over $1,000 for frontline health workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic after he was treated for cancer. But his fundraising efforts, carried out by lapping his garden 100 times, captured the hearts of the nation, and he has since raised over $40 million.
“I’m still Tom Moore,” the veteran said in reacting to the news. “I mean, it’s nice. It’s nice, I think Sir Thomas sounds very nice, but inside I haven’t changed. Nothing’s changed inside.”
While he said that this he was “overwhelmed,” he joked that he might need assistance to get down on one knee when the moment comes.
“Because if I get down I can’t get up … Maybe the queen will reach out her hand to give me a hand,” he said.
The Queen approved the knighthood for the veteran, and his official title will be Captain Sir Thomas Moore, according to the BBC.
Senior lawmakers in British politics joined the chorus of thanks in the British media for Captain Tom’s fundraising heroics.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a statement saying: “On behalf of the whole country, I want to say a huge thank you.”
Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, said that the veteran had “brought inspiration to millions.”
“On behalf of @UKLabour, I congratulate Captain Tom Moore on his knighthood,” he posted on Twitter. “In these difficult times for our country, Tom brought inspiration to millions and helped all of us to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of our NHS.”
The Ambassador to the U.K., Woody Johnson, said that Captain Tom would receive a “hero’s welcome” if he came to the U.S.
Captain Tom’s story has made international headlines across the globe, and even inspired a similar fundraising effort from Ziniaida Korneva, a 97-year-old Russian woman, also a veteran of World War II.
“Hello Tom. I learned about your story. You are a strong person and a real soldier,” she said in the clip posted to YouTube. “Together, we defeated fascism in 1945, and now, together, we are fighting this virus.”
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