Britain celebrates Tom Moore, the World War II veteran who raised millions to fight the virus.
Britain threw a 100th birthday on Thursday like no other for a World War II veteran who grabbed his walker and took laps around his garden to hold a record-smashing fund-raising campaign for medical workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
Britons flooded the one-man fund-raising juggernaut, Tom Moore, with more than 125,000 birthday cards, which were displayed at his grandson’s school. Members of the royal family sent him congratulatory messages. The BBC sang him “Happy Birthday” as he was presented a cake with a copy of a Spitfire war plane on top.
And Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday delivered a personal message on his Twitter account to the veteran, calling him “a point of light in all our lives.”
Two Royal Air Force planes, a Spitfire and a Hurricane, flew over Mr. Moore’s house in Bedfordshire, England, three times on Thursday as he sat outside with a shawl thrown over his shoulders in the nippy air. Mr. Moore seemed tickled by the attention, thanking supporters and telling a BBC reporter that he was “honored.”
Mr. Moore encapsulated all that Britain seemed to hold dear: veterans of war; fortitude (he originally set out to raise £1,000 by walking 100 laps of his garden and took 10 laps a day until he reached his mark); and heroism of a certain kind. By Thursday morning, his fund-raising page had notched more than £30 million in donations for the National Health Service, whose members have cared for the thousands of patients infected with the virus, including the prime minister, often at their own peril.