World War II veteran Colonel Tom Moore is having a pretty good birthday.
The British hero celebrated turning 100 years old by raising a whopping £30 million — or $37.8 million — for U.K. National Health Service charities.
The Yorkshire grandfather started with a goal of £1,000 if he walked 100 laps around his 50-yard-long garden before his birthday on April 30. Things snowballed from there and today Moore isn’t just a national hero, he’s become a bit of a national treasure too.
Relatives set up a fundraising page on his first day of campaigning. It reached his initial goal within hours before his campaign went viral and at £14 million, Moore had already completed the laps but decided to continue fundraising. What sent things over the edge was an unexpected collaboration.
He and singer Michael Ball teamed up to cover the show tune “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” All proceeds from the song went to Moore’s fund. The single ascended to the top of the charts, making him the oldest artist ever to have a number-one single in the U.K.
But Moore’s big day was filled with more than one milestone. The veteran received a “Happy Birthday” serenade from the British Army band. Although the group is practicing social distancing, they were able to orchestrate the performance in a video chat.
Moore, formerly a captain, was appointed the honorary colonel of the Army Foundation College in Harrogate by Chief of the General Staff General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith. The appointment, which was approved by the Queen, is to inspire a new generation of soldiers. He was even honored with a flypast of two World War II-era aircrafts.
And amongst the cake and compliments from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Moore received 140,000 birthday cards.
The colonel provided The Daily Express with wise words about his commitment to the noble cause.
“As you will have come to know, I sincerely believe that we as a nation must always stand together, united and undivided by class, race or religion, and the only way we will defeat this invisible enemy is to stand shoulder to shoulder, and never walk alone.”
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