Captain Tom Moore was awarded three military medals for his service, which saw him stationed from Mumbai to Myanmar. And now, approaching his hundredth birthday, he adds a chart-topping single to the collection.
With a duet cover of Michael Ball’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” Moore flew past pop sensation The Weeknd, 69 years Moore’s junior, becoming the oldest person ever to top the official U.K. charts.
He released his debut single after raising over ￡28 million ($35 million) for the National Health Service’s fight against the coronavirus. Even The Weeknd got behind the effort, urging followers on Twitter
“When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark,” Moore says on the track, which features a mix of Ball’s singing and Moore’s narration.
The song made its debut on the iTunes chart at No. 1, ousting 103-year-old Dame Vera Lynn, also raising money for the U.K.’s health service. Lynn, with Katherine Jenkins, released a duet cover of the her 1939 hit “We’ll Meet Again” recently referenced by Queen Elizabeth II in her national address on the coronavirus crisis.
Prince Philip, the duke of Edinburgh, released a message on Monday thanking key workers including medical and scientific professionals.
“As we approach World Immunisation Week, I wanted to recognise the vital and urgent work being done by so many to tackle the pandemic,” he said in a statement on Royal.uk, the royal family’s website.
Moore eclipsed the crowdfunding platform Just Giving’s record for cash raised by a single campaign by managing 100 laps around his garden with the help of a walking frame. All profits from his single, produced by Universal Music Group–owned Decca Records, will fund the campaign, too.
He has raised more than 28,000 times his initial goal, a modest ￡1,000.
Moore turns 100 on April 30 and will receive hundreds of cards from the viral #makeacardfortom Twitter campaign. A petition to knight the veteran has also notched over 900,000 signatures, while U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, himself recovering from a serious bout with the coronavirus-borne disease COVID-19, is set to look at ways to reward this latest act of kindness to have emerged in response to the continuing global pandemic.
“Captain Tom has captured the heart of the nation with his heroic effort and raised an incredible amount of money for hardworking NHS staff. ... The PM will be looking at ways to recognize Tom and his efforts,” said the prime minister’s spokesperson.
Moore’s final laps in his garden were broadcast live on national television with the backdrop of a guard of honor organized by his former regiment, who saluted him over the line.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. Woody Johnson encouraged Moore via Twitter, urging people to support the campaign. He said it is “amazing what people can do” and celebrated the generosity of the donors.
If people keep donating, the near-centenarian said he would keep on walking.
“We set out initially to raise a little bit of money by me walking up and down 100 times in reference to my hundredth birthday,” he said in an interview with Sky News. “The thing is, with this invisible enemy that we’ve got, we’ve all got to look forward to the future. ... Whatever people think, we shall get better.”
Moore lives in Bedfordshire with his daughter and two grandchildren, Benjamin and Georgia.
Celebrities from Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton to England cricket hero Ben Stokes have praised Britain’s coronavirus hero, who told ITV News: “In the last war we had our soldiers in uniform, in navy the army and the air force, fighting, but this time our army are in doctors’ and nurses’ uniforms, and they’ve doing such a marvelous job regardless of their own benefit.”
Moore’s campaign crashed the fundraising platform, and JustGiving’s parent company, Blackbaud, made its largest-ever donation, ￡100,000, to the campaign.
Other heartwarming acts of kindness have included the thousands of citizen-led groups that have sprung up across Britain as neighbors club together to offer support to people in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
Some of London’s top hotels, meanwhile, have provided shelter for the homeless, as Michelin-starred restaurants have dished up gourmet meals for health workers.
All this as the British government has announced plans to extend its coronavirus lockdown until May 7 with the death toll at 19,506.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, heading up the government during the prime minister’s convalescence, said: “There are indications that measures we have been putting in place have slowed down the virus. Overall we still don’t have the infection rate down as much as we would like to.
“The advice is [that] relaxing any measures would risk damaging public health and our economy. Based on this advice, the government decided the current measures must remain in place for at least the next three weeks. Now is not the time to give coronavirus a second chance.”
Germany has embarked on a different approach. In mid-April Chancellor Angela Merkel set out plans for a gradual reopening of the eurozone’s largest economy.
The European Commission has expressed concerns about uncoordinated approaches to lifting stay-at-home orders.