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Captain Tom's family will leave empty chair on first Christmas since NHS fundraising hero's death

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The family of the late fundraising hero Captain Sir Tom Moore are preparing for their first Christmas without him by their side. 

The fundraising champion died in February, leaving behind a loving family who will miss the footprints he left, both on their hearts and in the snow every Christmas when he pretended to be Santa. 

Speaking to the Mirror, his daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore revealed the comical tradition that bloomed as her children grew up. 

‘Back in the day he’d put on his wellies and create an imprint, in fake instant snow, that ran down the hall, all the way from the chimney, then to our Christmas tree,’ she said. 

Tom Moore with daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore and grandchildren Benji and Georgia

Tom Moore with daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore and grandchildren Benji and Georgia

‘Now my children do it. Even though it’s completely ridiculous!’

This year will be the first without Sir Tom, who lived with Hannah and her family for 13 years. 

Hannah, 49, now runs The Captain Tom Foundation, which was set up after Sir Tom raised an incredible £33m for NHS Charities Together by walking in his garden in Marston, Moretaine, Bedfordshire, 100 times – one lap for every year of his life.    

Sir Tom, who died after contracting pneumonia and coronavirus, brought the nation together during lockdown, and was knighted by The Queen for his efforts.  

Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously called Sir Tom a ‘point of light in our lives’ as he thanked him for pulling the nation together through the coronavirus pandemic. 

Captain Tom's family are preparing to spend their first Christmas without him

Captain Tom’s family are preparing to spend their first Christmas without him 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously called Sir Tom a 'point of light in our lives' as he thanked him for pulling the nation together through the coronavirus pandemic

Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously called Sir Tom a ‘point of light in our lives’ as he thanked him for pulling the nation together through the coronavirus pandemic

Her Majesty beamed as she bestowed the honour upon the 100-year-old veteran last year

Her Majesty beamed as she bestowed the honour upon the 100-year-old veteran last year 

In the 10 months since his death, Hannah, husband Colin and their children Benji, 17, and Georgia, 13, have been working on keeping the foundation running, and have fond memories of their time with him.  

‘The pure, unadulterated grief doesn’t go away,’ Hannah added. ‘I still turn as if I’m going into his room to catch up. 

‘Benji still uses ‘Grandpa’s fixing shed’. He’s doing A-level Design Technology because of their relationship.’

The family enjoyed what they didn’t realise would be their final Christmas together last year in Barbados. 

‘It will be hard this Christmas. There’s an empty chair, where he would sit. But we will fill that loss.’

Sir Tom died in February after contracting pneumonia and coronavirus

Sir Tom died in February after contracting pneumonia and coronavirus

The family spent their final Christmas with Captain Tom in Barbados

The family spent their final Christmas with Captain Tom in Barbados 

The family have been grieving the loss of Captain Tom for the last 10 months

The family have been grieving the loss of Captain Tom for the last 10 months 

Hannah believes Sir Tom would urge people to have vaccinations

Hannah believes Sir Tom would urge people to have vaccinations 

Hannah added that Sir Tom would urge people to have vaccinations in light of the coronavirus pandemic. 

‘Dad would be saying he understood people’s anxiety’s over the speed of the vaccine rollout, but we must look a little inward, reflect and treat it as a social responsibility,’ she said. 

The Foundation is set to reveal a revamp of future plans for its direction next week.  

Hannah revealed that she still discusses the direction of the Foundation with her late father at his graveside in Yorkshire, where he is buried alongside other family members. 

‘It’s lovely that he’s buried alongside other family I never knew,’ she said.    

‘I said to him, ‘I hope you are all happy together. How do you feel about ‘Young Tom’ connecting the world? ‘And he really has, hasn’t he?’ 

From Yorkshire to India: Colonel Tom Moore’s career in the military

Colonel Tom pictured during the Second World War. Boris Johnson described him as a national treasure during the Covid-19 crisis after raising almost £33million for the NHS

Colonel Tom pictured during the Second World War. Boris Johnson described him as a national treasure during the Covid-19 crisis after raising almost £33million for the NHS

Captain Tom Moore was conscripted into the British Army in June 1940 when he was 20, alongside all men aged 20 to 35.  

He began his military career in Otley, West Yorkshire, where he joined the 8th Battalion, the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment under Lieutenant Lord George Saville.

The Regiment was sent to train in Wadebridge, Cornwall where they were tasked with coastal defence amid a predicted German invasion.

A young Captain Moore was soon promoted to Corporal and sent to the officer cadet training unit in Droitwich Spa.

Here, he celebrated his 21st birthday after he passed as a Second Lieutenant.

In August 1941, he was sent to the DWR headquarters in Halifax where he joined the 9th Battalion at Winchcombe.  

The infantry battalion then converted to an armoured regiment 146th Royal Armoured Corp, though the majority of the soldiers could not drive.

In October, the unit was posted to Bombay, now Mumbai, in India. The journey took six weeks by sea, with a four-day delay in Freetown, Sierra Leone and a four-day stop in Cape Town.

Captain Moore then took a train from Bombay to Poona, before arriving at Kirkee, a town now known as Khadki.

The 9th DWR formed the 50th Indian Tank Brigade under the command of Brigadier Schreiber.

Captain Moore was then asked by the Brigadier to start a motorcycling course for the Brigade due to his expertise for the sport.    

The Brigade was then ordered to move to Calcutta – the road journey was in a monsoon and took three weeks. 

His Battalion was stationed in the Lohardaga district near Ranchi.

They then took part in two exercises in the Arakan before moving further east and south to Rangoon.

Captain Moore was then sent on a course at the approved vehicle depot in Bovington, England.

He remained here as an instructor until it was closed. 

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