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Captain Sir Thomas Moore

In January 2020 the first cases of Covid 19, a disease caused by a novel coronavirus, spread to the UK from its place of origin in China. In the middle of March restrictions on travel and contact with others were put in place. Those with certain health conditions, pregnant women and people over the age of 70 were asked to self-isolate. On 20 March all schools, restaurants, pubs and indoor leisure facilities were ordered to close. On 23 March this lockdown was imposed on the whole population except for essential workers. Almost all businesses were closed along with places of worship. This was done in an effort to restrict the spread of the virus and relieve the pressure on the NHS. 

While in lockdown people were encouraged to exercise each day and stay connected with each other however they could. People set themselves challenges for not only a personal sense of achievement, but also to fundraise for different charities. Benjamin Ingram-Moore, a Year 11 pupil at Bedford School suggested that his grandfather Captain Thomas Moore, walk 100 lengths of their 25 metre long garden before his one hundredth birthday on 30 April 2020 in order to raise £1000 for the NHS.   


Marston Moretaine 1922 [Z50/76/13]

Moore was born in Keighley in West Yorkshire on 30th April 1920. During the Second World War he joined the Army and initially served with the 8th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, later becoming a member of the Royal Armoured Corps. He served in India and Burma (now Myanmar), and after the war ended he became an instructor at the Armoured Vehicle Fighting School in Bovington, Dorset. In 2008 he moved to live with his daughter and her family in Marston Moretaine. Following a hip replacement Moore uses a walking frame and the challenge was suggested as part of his rehabilitation and following the cancellation of his birthday celebrations due to lockdown restrictions. He began walking on 6 April 2020 and the original goal of £1000 was quickly achieved and the target was increased, but as word spread across the world and the media became involved each objective was smashed. Moore completed his 100 laps on 16 April 2020, but set a new target of completing 200 laps as money was still being raised.  

On the day that Moore completed his challenge JustGiving revealed that Bedford was 9th in a list of the locations from which donations had been made. It was the highest ranked town with the other locations being cities such as London, Glasgow and Leeds. JustGiving reported on 26 April 2020 that Moore’s fundraising was the largest ever amount raised on their website, beating the previous record of £5.2million. On Moore’s 100th birthday on 30 April 2020 the figure raised stood at over £30 million and over 1,400,000 individuals had donated.   

Moore also recorded a cover version of the song ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ with Michael Ball following their appearance on breakfast television. It reached number 1 in the official singles chart on 24 April 2020 making Moore the oldest person to achieve this. 

Captain Thomas Moore was knighted by the Queen on 17th July 2020 and was recognised in numerous other ways for his fundraising achievements, including: 

  • Promotion to Honorary Colonel of the Army Foundation College, announced in a letter presented to Moore at his home on his 100th birthday by Lt Col Thomas Miller, commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment (the successor to Moore’s old regiment). 

  • An RAF fly-past and birthday greetings from the Queen and Prime Minister Boris Johnson 

  • Pride of Britain award  

  • Guinness World Records for his number one single and for being the largest fundraiser in an individual charity walk  

  • Granted the Freedom of Keighley 

  • Opened the NHS Nightingale Hospital in Harrogate via video link 

  • Stagecoach East, who run services in Bedford, named one of their double-decker buses Captain Tom Moore. 

The public sent birthday cards to Captain Tom Moore in vast numbers, with over 125,000 cards arriving from all over the world. The Royal Mail had to introduce dedicated sorting facilities. They also introduced a postmark in his honour which was used between 26 April and 1 May, "Happy 100th Birthday Captain Thomas Moore NHS fundraising hero 30th April 2020". Twenty volunteers were recruited to open and display the cards at Bedford School where Moore’s grandson Benjamin Ingram-Moore is a pupil. Benjamin also set up and ran a Twitter account for his grandfather which attracted thousands of followers, including many celebrities. 

Bedford School OTC Z1306-12-3-3

Bedford School Officer Training Corps, 1937 [Z1306/12/3/3] 

On his birthday Captain Moore was quoted as saying: "Reaching 100 is quite something. Reaching 100 with such interest in me and huge generosity from the public is very overwhelming. People keep saying what I have done is remarkable, however it's actually what you have done for me which is remarkable. Please always remember, tomorrow will be a good day." 

Moore not only raised millions of pounds for the NHS, but became an inspiration to many others who went on to carry out their own fundraising efforts, locally, nationally and internationally. He died on 2nd February 2021.

Bedfordshire Archives does not hold any records relating directly to Captain Tom Moore or the regiment in which he served, but we do hold many documents relating to both the Bedfordshire Regiment and the county of Bedfordshire during both World Wars. Information about these collections can be found here