Coronavirus: Birthday tributes flood in for fund-raising British veteran 'Captain Tom'

Mandy Alison poses with a selection of over 125,000 cards sent to Captain Tom Moore, displayed in the Great Hall of Bedford School, on April 28, 2020.
Mandy Alison poses with a selection of over 125,000 cards sent to Captain Tom Moore, displayed in the Great Hall of Bedford School, on April 28, 2020.PHOTO: AFP
Captain Tom Moore, 99, poses while doing a lap of his garden in the British village of Marston Moretaine.
Captain Tom Moore, 99, poses while doing a lap of his garden in the British village of Marston Moretaine.PHOTO: AFP

BEDFORD, England (REUTERS) - British World War II veteran Captain Tom Moore is in for a very special 100th birthday on Thursday (April 30) after well-wishers from around the world repaid his record-breaking fund-raising efforts by sending tens of thousands of birthday cards.

Moore has raised more than £29 million (S$51 million) for the National Health Service by completing laps of his garden with the help of a walking frame.

People tuned in from across the globe to watch his progress online, turning Moore into an unexpected focal point for a flood of donations to the state-funded healthcare system which is handling the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Since completing his 100 laps - breaking both his initial £1,000 target and then the Guinness world record for a charity walk - Moore has received over 125,000 birthday cards.

"It's the most amazing outpouring of love for a great man,"said James Hodgson, headmaster of the nearby Bedford School in central England, which has taken on the mammoth task of opening and displaying the cards.

The floor of the school hall has been transformed into a sea of goodwill messages, carefully curated by volunteers who have spent hours reading them over the last week.

"We've had cards from all around the world, not just the UK... we've had cards from two year olds and we've had cards from 92 year olds," Hodgson said.

Even as more arrive every day, Hodgson said the plan was to display as many as possible and send Moore a photograph of the results.

One hand-drawn card from 11-year old Rebekah in South Wales read: "To My Hero! Thank you for all you have done. You will help a lot of people with the money you have raised xx"