A petition calling for Captain Tom Moore, 99, to be knighted has passed 300,000 signatures – hours after the war veteran completed his garden walk which raised £14m for the NHS.
The petition calls for him to be recognised in the next honours list, which is due to be published on the Queen’s official birthday in June.
Sonia Wilson, an NHS midwife, started the Change.org petition, explaining that “it’s given me and my colleagues a huge morale boost to watch Captain Moore over the last few days”.
“Not only that,” she added, “but to see the outpouring of support from the public to support his fundraiser has been incredible.
“Thank you Captain Moore. And thank you to everyone who has supported him.
“Now this amazing motivational hero deserves to be awarded a knighthood.”
More than 150 people have started separate petitions for the captain, who has received a huge outpouring of thanks on social media, with the hashtag #KnighthoodforCaptainTom trending.
Kajal Odedra, UK executive director of Change.org, said: “Captain Moore has shown us all the power that individual action can have in a crisis, and brought a smile to all of our faces during a difficult time.
“Now hundreds of thousands of people are taking small actions themselves, to say thank you to Cpt Moore by signing this petition.
“I hope it will bring a smile to his face to know he has had such an impact on the country.”
In response to the public campaign, the prime minister’s spokesman said Cpt Moore had “captured the heart of the nation with his heroic efforts”, and added that he had raised “an incredible amount of money for hardworking NHS staff”.
“He has embodied the spirit of the whole country in doing their bit for the battle against coronavirus, to support the NHS and save lives.
“From his military contributions to his support for NHS staff, Tom has demonstrated a lifetime of bravery and compassion.
“The prime minister will certainly be looking at ways to recognise Tom for his heroic efforts.”
On Thursday morning, the war veteran completed his challenge of walking 100 lengths of his Bedfordshire garden, smashing his original target to raise £1,000 for the NHS fighting COVID-19.
He was surprised with a guard of honour from the 1st Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment – and told Sky News that the response he had received had been “absolutely amazing”.
He said: “They [the NHS] are doing such a magnificent job and every day, they’re putting themselves in danger, and they’re doing it cheerfully and they’re continuing to do that, and good for them.”
The NHS posted “we salute you”, while the Ministry of Defence called Cpt Moore “one of our own” as it thanked him for his efforts.
“We class Captain Tom as one of our own, so it’s a fantastic honour to be here today to witness such an inspirational act from a phenomenal individual. Thank you Tom!” – @RSM_1YORKS
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) April 16, 2020
He has received multiple messages of thanks from NHS workers, politicians, celebrities and sports personalities – including six-times F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton – who called Cpt Moore “a legend”.
But when questioned about how he feels about the calls for him to be knighted, Cpt Moore told Sky News: “That makes me laugh, because I never ever anticipated such a thing – although I’m buzzing at the sound of Sir Thomas Moore, sounds quite good.”
Dressed in a blazer and tie and displaying his war medals, he vowed to continue while the donations keep coming in.
Raised in Yorkshire, Mr Moore served in India, Burma and Sumatra during the Second World War, and said he had been inspired by the care he received from the NHS when he broke his hip and when he was treated for cancer.
He added: “With this invisible enemy that we’ve got, we’ve all got to look forward to the future when we’ve beaten this enemy.
“Whatever people think, we shall get better. Things will be better tomorrow.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock paid tribute to Mr Moore at the government’s daily Downing Street news conference on Wednesday, calling him “an inspiration to us all”.
After hearing the remarks, Mr Moore said: “I was absolutely amazed that somebody like him would talk to me.
“I mean he is such an important person in our government and for him to make a reference to me is great.”
Cpt Moore’s daughter Hannah said her father had become a “global beacon of hope” in his fundraising efforts.
Speaking after he completed his challenge, she said they initially thought “if we could amazingly raise £1,000, we’d be delighted”.
“Then we hit £1,000 and we thought, well this is extraordinary, could £5,000 by the end of the month be possible?” she continued.
“And then, who knew, and who could ever have said that – is it nine or 10 days later – we’re talking about £12m.
“I don’t think anyone could write this story. We’re brimming with pride, but honestly, in humility also.”
Cpt Moore’s grandson, Benji, has said: “It’s incredible. The support we’ve had across the country, and now America and France, it’s been amazing.
“I’ve been speechless all week and it’s got to a point where I genuinely have no words.
“I’m so proud of him – I’ve lived with him practically my whole life, I wouldn’t know anything without him, and it’s just been incredible – I can’t say anything else.”
The number of donations to Cpt Moore’s JustGiving page has risen at breakneck speed over recent days.
During one of his interviews with Sky News, more than £50,000 was donated alone.