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Sunday, Nov 29, 2020

Captain Tom becomes Colonel Tom for his 100th birthday

Captain Tom Moore has become a national hero for raising almost £30 million for NHS Charities Together – but we might have to get to know him by another title.
The inspirational war veteran, who turns 100 today, has been appointed as an honorary colonel of the Army Foundation College in Harrogate to mark his milestone.

Chief of the General Staff General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith made the appointment, which has been approved by the Queen, in order to inspire the next generation of soldiers.

Captain Tom was informed of the promotion in a letter presented by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Miller, the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment at his home in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire.

The veteran, who was born in Keighley, served with the 8th Battalion The Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment, which is now part of The Yorkshire Regiment.

His centenary is also being marked by two military flypasts, while a Great Western Railway intercity express train has been named in his honour and his local postbox had been repainted in the colours of the NHS.

Well-wishers have also sent him more than 125,000 birthday cards, which are being stored at his grandson’s secondary school.

Captain Tom set out to raise £1,000 for the NHS by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday. His fundraising captured the nation’s heart during the coronavirus lockdown.

Since then he has also become the oldest person to land a number one single with his cover of You’ll Never Walk Alone, recorded alongside Michael Ball and the NHS Voices of Care Choir.

As honorary colonel, he will be invited to speak to junior soldiers at Harrogate, ensuring his example is passed on to the next generation of soldiers.

The centenarian, who is now entitled to use the rank of colonel, was also presented with a replacement Second World War Defence Medal ahead of next week’s VE Day celebrations.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: ‘Captain Tom is simply inspirational and I am absolutely delighted the Army has honoured him in such a fitting manner.

‘He not only embodies the spirit of our incredible veteran community, but the resolve of this nation.

‘During these unprecedented times, he has reminded us all hardship is easier endured when we place the needs of others above our own, and approach everything with a smile.

‘Like millions of others, I put my hand in my pocket for his incredible fundraising feat that will do such good for the NHS working on the front line of this battle right now.

Ahead of VE Day 75, it is fitting that we are once again looking to the Second World War generation to show us the way.’

General Carleton-Smith said: ‘His mature wisdom, no-nonsense attitude and humour in adversity make him an inspirational role model to generations young and old.

‘I am delighted he has accepted the honorary colonelcy of the Army Foundation College in Harrogate, where our 16 and 17-year-olds are trained and educated to be the future leaders of the Army.’
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