The Head Master of Bedford School, which became such a big part of Sir Captain Tom Moore’s 100th birthday celebrations, has spoken about the legacy that the record-breaking fundraiser and WW2 veteran has left behind.
Captain Sir Tom Moore died on Tuesday, aged 100, at Bedford Hospital after being admitted with Covid-19 (coronavirus).
Head Master, James Hodgson, spoke to the Bedford Independent about the school’s relationship with Sir Tom’s family and how the Great Hall became home to the centurion’s thousands of birthday cards.
Sir Tom’s grandson, Benjie, is now in the Lower Sixth, having joined Bedford School aged seven.
“Sir Captain Tom’s story touched us very closely as a school,” said James. “We know the family very well and being a part of the 100th birthday journey was very special for the school.”
Pupils, their families and members of staff all joined in the mammoth task of opening the tens of thousands of birthday cards sent to Sir Tom ahead of his 100th birthday, as the school became a ‘pop up sorting office.’
“Everyone in the school felt very proud to be part of it,” said James. “It meant a lot to the wider community too.”
As Sir Tom’s cards were opened, there were messages from well-wishers around the world as well as NHS workers and war veterans, who, as the Head Master says, “all felt they knew him.”
“On one hand, it’s a really, really sad day, that a generous and lovely person has died,” said James.
“On the other hand it’s hard not to smile whenever you think about him and how phenomenal the last year was for him.”
“He loved people and that feeling was reciprocated. He was very unassuming and so modest; he was as amazed as anyone at the way the fundraising took off.”
Samantha Laycock, Harpur Centre Manager said, “During 2020, Captain Sir Tom Moore was a real inspiration to people nationwide, but particularly to the community of Bedford who took great pride in knowing a hero was on our doorstep and that a Bedford School pupil, Sir Tom’s grandson, Benjie was the mastermind behind the idea.”
She said his tremendous efforts gave the whole community a reason to smile.
“As Bedford School became the main distribution point for his 100th birthday cards and our local papers were celebrating a hero walking amongst us, we felt inspired to install a touching tribute to the Captain.
“It is a daily reminder of his endless strength and endurance which has guided us all through these difficult times.
“Captain Sir Tom will continue to inspire our Centre teams and wider community every day, and it is with great pride that we will continue to display our mural as a long-lasting tribute to a true hero.”
James Hodgson concludes: “Sir Tom was a great role model. It’s difficult to come into the spotlight without intending to, but he realised he was able to make a difference.
“His positive, optimistic, kind, generous and empathetic character makes it impossible not to smile and feel pride when we think of him and what he achieved.”