UK war hero Captain Sir Tom Moore has died after contracting COVID-19, months after he raised millions of dollars to help frontline workers battle the virus.
The 100-year-old war veteran, who was awarded a knighthood by the Queen for his charity work, lost his battle with the virus on Tuesday afternoon local time, his family confirmed.
Captain Tom was admitted to hospital in Bedford, England on January 31 after struggling with his breathing following treatment for pneumonia and a positive COVID-19 test.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our dear father, Captain Sir Tom Moore,” his daughters Hannah and Lucy said in a statement.
“We are so grateful that we were with him during the last hours of his life … We spent hours chatting to him, reminiscing about our childhood and our wonderful mother. We shared laughter and tears together.
“The last year of our father’s life was nothing short of remarkable. He was rejuvenated and experienced things he’d only ever dreamed of.
“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.”
The family paid tribute to Captain Tom’s “extraordinary” carers over the past few weeks and years, calling them “unfalteringly professional, kind and compassionate”.
They said the campaigner had spoken a great deal in recent days of how proud he felt at being able to leave behind the legacy of his Foundation, as they requested privacy to grieve and remember the “wonderful 100 years” he had.
Buckingham Palace said the Queen was sending a private message of condolence to the family of Captain Sir Tom Moore.
“Her Majesty very much enjoyed meeting Captain Sir Tom and his family at Windsor last year. Her thoughts and those of the Royal Family are with them,” the Palace said in a statement.
UK prime Minister Boris Johnson said Captain Moore “was a hero in the truest sense of the word”, who “embodied the triumph of the human spirit”. The flag above No 10 Downing Street was lowered to half mast to honour the 100-year-old.
It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the death of Captain Sir Tom Moore. An exceptional man and soldier to the end, our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.
On Sunday, Moore’s daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore revealed that her father had been treated for pneumonia over the past few weeks “and last week tested positive for COVID-19”.
“He was at home with us until today when he needed additional help with his breathing,” she explained, adding that “he is being treated in a ward although he is not in ICU”.
A spokeswoman for the family confirmed that Captain Tom had not received his COVID vaccine due to his pneumonia medication.
Tributes poured in thick and fast for the brave campaigner. The hospital “How terribly sad,” said former England soccer star Gary Lineker. “What an extraordinary life, with the most wonderful finale over the last year.”
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was “so sorry” to hear the news and sent his best wishes to Captain Tom’s family. “He was a great British hero that showed the best of our country.”
How terribly sad: Captain Sir Tom Moore has passed away. What an extraordinary life, with the most wonderful finale over the last year. A National treasure and a hero. RIP.
Our thoughts are with his loved ones and all who were close to him.
His incredible fundraising supported so many wonderful NHS causes – including supporting #TeamLAS and we’re so grateful to him and all who donated.
TV host Piers Morgan called Captain Tom a “magnificent man” and “national hero”, who “rallied Britain with his resilience, courage and optimism”.
BBC radio host Zoe Ball tweeted: “Thank you for inspiring us all to do more to help our fellow humans … RIP magical chap.”
The war vet won the hearts of the nation with his bid to raise money for National Health Service (NHS) staff working on the front lines of the pandemic.
He set out to raise £1000 ($A1800) before his 100th birthday on April 30, 2020, by walking 100 laps of the 25-metre loop in his garden.
The man who united and inspired our nation at a moment of deepest despair. Thank you Captain Sir Tom Moore for your service. I am heartbroken for your family. A life well lived, and well loved. RIP.
— Susanna Reid (@susannareid100) February 2, 2021
He then recorded “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, a US show tune best known as the anthem of the Liverpool Football Club, which shot to number one in the charts.
Captain Tom went on to raise more than £32.7 million ($A59m) for the NHS.
In July last year, he was knighted by the Queen in the monarch’s first face-to-face engagement since lockdown.
Before the ceremony Captain Tom joked “if I kneel down, I’ll never get up again, but I’m sure it’ll go well, as she’s done it before”.
The Queen performed the ceremony at Windsor Castle for the fundraising legend as a special exception.
“Thank you so much. An amazing amount of money you raised,” she told the war vet.
Captain Tom described the honour as “absolutely outstanding”.
“I could never ever believe beforehand that I was going to get such an honour as I have today,” he said.
“I never ever thought I could be so privileged to be so close to the Queen and speak to her.”
He added: “I am absolutely overawed, this is such a high award and to get it from Her Majesty as well – what more can anyone wish for? This has been an absolutely magnificent day for me.
In April 2020, Captain Sir Tom Moore wanted to raise £1,000 for charity by his 100th birthday by doing laps in his yard with his walker.
His story inspired so many people that he ended up raising £32 millio.
“The money is very useful but you’ve only one Queen and when you get a message from the Queen there’s no value that can be placed on that.
“To meet the Queen was more than anyone could expect, never ever did I imagine I would get so close to the Queen and have such a kind message from her, that was really outstanding, it was truly outstanding.”
Captain Tom enlisted in 145 Regiment Royal Armoured Corps during World War Two and was chosen for officer training in 1940.
He rose to the rank of captain and was posted to India before going on to serve his country in Myanmar.
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