‘Clap for Tom’: Britain holds national round of applause for Capt Sir Tom Moore

Boris Johnson leads tribute from steps of Downing Street

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Britain has held a nationwide round of applause for Capt Sir Tom Moore, who died with coronavirus on Tuesday.

People across the UK clapped in appreciation of the centenarian's life, after his fundraising efforts for the National Health Service.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson led the poignant tribute from the steps of Downing Street after earlier observing a minute's silence in Parliament.

"We all now have the opportunity to show our appreciation for him and all that he stood for and believed in," Mr Johnson said.

"That is why I encourage everyone to join in a national clap for Capt Tom and all those health workers for whom he raised money, at 6pm this evening.”

Moore’s family said they were touched by the gesture of support for the Second World War veteran.

"Capt Tom's family are incredibly touched by the public's suggestion of a  Clap for Tom this evening at 6pm," they said on Twitter.

"They will be taking part with huge love in their hearts for their father, grandfather and father-in-law."

"Capt Tom" became a national treasure after shuffling up and down his garden with his walking frame in a determined charity walk.

His endeavour and wit spread joy amid the grim news of the coronavirus outbreak with a message to the world that the sun would shine again and that the clouds would clear.

Moore set out to raise £1,000 for Britain’s National Health Service by walking 100 laps of his backyard.

But his inspirational quest went viral and caught the imagination of millions stuck at home during the first wave of the pandemic.

Donations poured in from across Britain and as far away as the US and Japan, raising about £33 million ($40m).

For three weeks in April, fans were greeted with daily videos of Moore, stooped with age, doggedly pushing his walker in the garden.

But it was his sunny attitude during a dark moment that inspired people to look beyond illness and loss.

“Please always remember, tomorrow will be a good day,” Moore said in an interview during his walk, uttering the words that became his trademark.

When Moore finished his 100th lap on April 16, a military honour guard lined the path.

The celebration continued on his 100th birthday a few days later, when two Second World War-era fighter planes flew overhead in tribute.

Moore, with a plaid blanket over his shoulders, pumped a fist as they roared past.

In July, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II during a socially distanced ceremony at Windsor Castle, west of London.

The monarch, 94, used an impossibly long sword to confer the honour as Moore, wearing his wartime medals, leant on his walker and beamed.

“I have been overwhelmed by the many honours I have received over the past weeks, but there is simply nothing that can compare to this,″ he tweeted after the ceremony.

“I am overwhelmed with pride and joy.”

Born in Keighley, West Yorkshire, on April 30, 1920, Moore completed an apprenticeship in civil engineering before being drafted into the army in the early months of the Second World War.

After being selected for officer training, he rose to the rank of captain while serving in India, Burma and Sumatra.

After leaving the army in 1946, Moore went to work for the family construction firm.

After that failed, he became a salesman and later a manager for building materials companies.

When the concrete company for which he was working was threatened with closure, Moore rounded up a group of investors and bought it, preserving 60 jobs.

Along the way, he divorced his first wife and fell in love with his former employer’s office manager Pamela.

The couple married, had two daughters and eventually retired to Spain, but returned to England after Pamela became ill.

After his wife died in 2006, Moore moved to the village of Marston Moretaine in Bedfordshire to live with his younger daughter Hannah and her family.

The former motorcycle racer finally slowed down after he fell and broke his hip in 2018.

A walker replaced the Skoda Yeti he drove until he was 98, but he kept moving.

At a backyard barbecue in early April 2020, Moore’s family challenged him to walk the length of the 25-metre driveway.

After he made it to the end, his son-in-law encouraged him to keep going, offering to pay £1 for every lap and suggesting a goal of 100 laps by Moore’s 100th birthday.

Things snowballed from there.

Moore thought he might be able to raise £1,000 for the doctors and nurses who took care of him after he broke his hip, and his family used social media to publicise “Capt Tom Moore’s 100th birthday walk for the NHS.”

A local radio reporter called first, then national broadcasters. Soon, international media were waiting outside the garden gate.

As he pushed his walker up and down the path, people facing the first lockdown of the pandemic watched online.

Soon #TomorrowWillBeAGoodDay was trending on Twitter.

“People told me that there was something about my little walk that captured the hearts of those still in shock at the crisis,” Moore wrote in his autobiography.

“With a rising number of deaths and the prospect of months of lockdown, everyone was desperate for good news.

“Apparently, a 99-year-old former army captain who’d fought in Burma, was recovering from a broken hip, and doing his bit for the NHS was just what they needed."

Prince Harry was among dozens of celebrities cheering for him.

But it was the public that embraced Moore, flooding the village post office with about 6,000 gifts and 140,000 birthday cards.

He was made an honorary member of the England cricket team, had a train named after him and was recognised with the Freedom of the City of London award.

Moore enjoyed the accolades but remained focused on others.

He dedicated his autobiography Tomorrow will be a Good Day, to "all those who serve on the front line of any battle, be it military, psychological or medical.".

In the end, Moore urged the public to look after one another and thanked the country he inspired for inspiring him.

“I felt a little frustrated and disappointed after I broke my hip and it knocked my confidence,” he said after completing his trek.

“However, the past three weeks have put a spring back in my step.

“I have renewed purpose and have thoroughly enjoyed every second of this exciting adventure, but I can’t keep walking forever."