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Captain Tom, Centenarian Who Inspired The U.K. With His Fundraising Walks, Has Died

Capt. Sir Tom Moore poses in September while marking the launch of his memoir, <em>Tomorrow Will Be a Good Day,</em> in Milton Keynes, England.
Chris Jackson
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Capt. Sir Tom Moore poses in September while marking the launch of his memoir, Tomorrow Will Be a Good Day, in Milton Keynes, England.

Capt. Sir Tom Moore, who as he approached his 100th birthday gained fame and affection by walking sponsored laps in his garden to raise funds for charity, has died, his foundation announced Tuesday.

Moore was hospitalized Sunday for COVID-19, his daughter said via Twitter. He was three months shy of 101 at the time of his death.

The British veteran of World War II became an international sensation last spring when his modest offer to raise money for the U.K.'s National Health Service ultimately collected more than $40 million in pledges. He did it by asking donors to sponsor walks he took in his garden in England.

Photos of Moore behind his walker, in a coat and tie, military medals on his chest, cheered millions in the U.K. as the nation struggled through the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. Great Britain has the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe.

Queen Elizabeth II knighted Moore in July at a private ceremony at Windsor Castle and he became Sir Tom.

Moore, who lives in Bedfordshire, around 50 miles northwest of London, traveled to Barbados during the Christmas holidays. At the time, he thanked British Airways and tourism officials for helping him scratch an item off his bucket list.

In addition to his fundraising walks, Moore also became a surprise top-selling singer last year, thanks to his recording of "You'll Never Walk Alone," performed with singer Michael Ball and an NHS Voices of Care choir. Like his walks, it raised money for NHS Charities Together.

"He became not just a national inspiration but a beacon of hope for the world," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement, according to Reuters.

NPR London correspondent Frank Langfitt contributed reporting.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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