Captain Tom: A hero without a cape whose legacy will live on for another 100 years

We pay tribute to national treasure and Bedford's own Captain Tom Moore who has sadly passed away aged 100
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It was headlined 'Bedford man to walk 100 lengths of his garden for NHS before his 100th birthday'.

In a strange way the headline and our use of the words 'Bedford man' almost seems disrespectful now doesn't it!

Captain Tom MooreCaptain Tom Moore
Captain Tom Moore

But little could we, or anyone for that matter, have foreseen what was to come.

Captain Tom pledged to walk 100 lengths of his 50 metre-long garden and donate 100 per cent of the funds raised to the NHS.

He had - we were told - been inspired by the treatment he received from the NHS after breaking his hip and for skin cancer.

A modest fundraising target of £1,000 was set. On publishing the article we put a link in to the Just Giving page and as we do with all of our stories pushed it out on social media appealing for people to give what they could afford.

Captain Tom MooreCaptain Tom Moore
Captain Tom Moore

Given our small team and the deluge of important news we are dealing with across multiple titles during this crisis we moved on to the next story.

What happened next changed everything.

Before we knew it Tom had smashed his target which kept being revised upwards. But the money kept coming until the target of £500,000 was left for dust.

A few weeks later we sat in awe as the total reached a staggering £33 million.

Captain Tom MooreCaptain Tom Moore
Captain Tom Moore

But while that money did so much for our brave NHS workers in what has proved to be this country's darkest hours, it was never about targets and money. It wasn't about people taking pity on an elderly man either, far from it.

This was the story of the pandemic, Captain Tom himself was the light in the dark of lockdown.

People wanted to help raise money for the NHS but were restricted in how they could go about it. They wanted to give but many didn't know how, or perhaps the best way to do it to ensure it went to our frontline workers.

They latched onto Captain Tom because he stood for everything that is great - not just about Britain - but humanity.

We have all seen that this global health crisis has brought out the best, and unfortunately the worst, in people and society.

But for every selfish toilet roll hoarder, every cold-hearted shop keeper out to make a fast buck by hiking up the prices of hand sanitiser or every person flouting strict lockdown rules there was Captain Tom to restore our faith in the power of good.

We were lucky enough to tell his story first. That's all we did. And Tom did the rest.

A petition to see Captain Tom knighted took off as meteorically as his fundraising efforts. But in an age where people often criticise how freely the honour is handed out, this was one man fully deserving of the title.

The former civil engineer had billboards, artwork, graffiti, sculptures, poems, books, magazine features and programmes dedicated to him.

Captain Tom has resonated with the British public like no celebrity, politician or scientist ever could.

He is a reminder that amidst all the gloom there is hope.

With his passing comes great sadness. But he can rest in peace knowing the imprint he left on the nation. His is a story that will live on for another 100 years and then some.

Some people can look back on life like a video game score and say they have done well.

Not many can say they've completed it.

Rest In Peace Captain Tom Moore. We salute you.