An estimated 120,00 cards have been sent from across the world to Bedfordshire’s Captain Tom Moore in a staggering outpouring of affection ahead of his 100th birthday.
The temporary sorting office at Bedford School, attended by Capt Moore’s grandson Benjie Ingram-Moore, has called on around 250 volunteers to help open and sort the cards, before they’re put on display in the school’s Great Hall.
Teams of school staff, Old Bedfordians, parents and pupils have all adhered to strict social distancing rules to open each card and create the spectacular display.
The war veteran, who turns 100 on Thursday, has become a beacon of hope for the nation after he raised more than £28million for the NHS Charities Together by walking 100 lengths of his 25′ garden ahead of his centenary.
Benjie, who managed the social media operation for his grandad’s fundraising, said: “The volume of cards that have been sent to grandad is just astonishing.
“So many of the cards are truly heartfelt with thousands from young children who have taken the time to use their artistic talent and write a personal message.”
The 16-year-old added: “It means a lot to grandad as well as us as a family. We are hugely proud of how the nation has taken grandad to its heart.
“Words can’t express how much I idolise him.”
Post across the country has been adorned with a specially created postmark wishing Capt Moore a happy birthday by Royal Mail and the stamps are being saved by Bedford School – assisted by an army of volunteers in Biddenham – and distributed to charities.
Creative projects, using all of the birthday cards, are currently being discussed, so none will just be put in the recycling bin.
Bedford School Head Master James Hodgson said: “The story of Captain Tom is one that the entire country is talking about.
“The whole school community is rightly proud of what Benjie has helped his grandad achieve and it was only right that we offered the school as a base to receive and display the phenomenal number of cards.
“Captain Tom’s story has inspired a generation with one of the school’s boys, aged 10, penning a wonderful poem saluting his fundraising efforts.”
Capt Moore was originally planning to mark his centenary on Thursday with a family party however the celebrations have been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re not quite sure what we’ll be doing on Thursday,” Benjie told the Bedford Independent. “We’re hoping to have some quiet family time the following week.”
Benjie added: “The swathes of birthday cards and messages from celebrities including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Dame Kelly Holmes and England captain Harry Kane have left Grandad speechless and more than made up for his cancelled birthday plans.
“He is in total amazement at the amount of cards. I show him pictures every day and he is blown away by the sheer number. He talks a lot about the cards made by children and the incredible effort put into these.”
It has been a whirlwind few weeks for Capt Moore whose charity cover of You’ll Never Walk Alone with Michael Ball and the NHS Voices of Care Choir has secured the number one spot in the singles chart for the second week running and he has also received a Pride of Britain award.
Benjie said, “We were all on a Zoom call with Capital Radio when [the number one] was announced. We all started laughing, but are so grateful to everyone who has bought the single – we’re really humbled.
“This means that he will be number one on his actual birthday.”
Captain Tom was born and raised in Keighley, West Yorkshire. He completed an apprenticeship as a civil engineer before being conscripted in 1940. He began military life in the 8th Battalion The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. He rose through the ranks to captain and served in India and Burma.
The NHS Charities Together is a collective experience representing, supporting and championing the work of the NHS’ official charities. NHS Charities gives £1million a day to the NHS, providing vital funds to help the NHS do more and be better equipped.
It is not too late to donate, visit Captain Tom’s Justgiving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tomswalkforthenhs