The 99-year-old Royal Armoured Corps veteran, who served in the Far East in World War 2, has become an international sensation after setting out to raise £1,000 for NHS Charities Together by waling 100 laps of his Bedfordshire garden before his 100th birthday on April 30. However, his efforts captured the public imagination – and even though Captain Tom completed his 100th lap and Thursday, he has now vowed to keep going with the money continuing to pour in as the total climbs towards £20million.
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He’s a symbol of everything that is good and decent and right about this world in this time of uncertainty
Simon, who was himself awarded a CBE in 1992 and an OBE in 2016 in recognition of his work for charity, told Express.co.uk: “It will be a rush to get it in for the Birthday Honours – I don’t know how the system works, even though I’ve been on it myself twice.
“How long do you reckon this man is going to be around? He’s a symbol of everything that is good and decent and right about this world in this time of uncertainty.
“This man during his time during the World War 2 he stood and was counted this and again this man with with let’s be honest with not many years left how long is he going to occupy being a Sir? And wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing to give him.
“And I do know it is within the purview of the government and the Royal Household to make an exception.
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“Hopefully they will listen and it will happen.”
Welsh Guard Simon, who sustained burns across almost half his body after the ship on which he was travelling, the Sir Galahad, was bombed by Argentine fighter jets just six days before the end of the conflict, added: “Captain Tom, you know, what can I say?
“A man of honour, a man of fortitude, of definite courage, a man who has served his country.
“In this dark time for so many people in the NHS, and for all those other people who are suffering health, he decided that he would want to make this gesture.
“Such a humble amount at the beginning and now the last I saw it it was £16 million.
“We are all looking for moments of humanity in these dark Titans.
“We would all fully aware of the selfishness, of the idiocy, in the fools who keep trying to exploit the rules, and I’m hearing different stories all the times about pubs that are having parties in them.
“Maybe the penalty should be harsher. Because people are definitely risking other people’s lives because of their selfishness and their sheer stupidity, let’s be honest, and the most foolish of all people, they don’t care about anybody else except their good times.
“But then you see somebody like this who has touched the hearts of people globally.
“And it shows the power of social media, the power of news stories, the power of TV still, the printed press.
“I heard a story about in Australia in our hotel at the close though, but they opened the doors to give rooms and feed all these homeless people and it’s so nice to hear that humanity still prevails.”
The story has also provided a much-needed reminder of the power of compassion in difficult times, Simon said.
He explained: “If ever there was a time we all needed understanding, humour, humility this is it.
“This is all about the sensitivity of mankind, rather than its ability to be brutal. And both myself and Tom, and all those other young soldiers giving him a guard of honour, all military people understand, and police, and the NHS staff, understand the brutality of life.
“This disease has brought the economic and the human world to its knees.
“And then you see a 99-year-old man who has humbled the World Health Organization, he’s humbled the UN just by his sheer act of act of compassion and humility and desire.
“He’s managed to show by a simple act of determination that you can make a difference and in his own way he would have been made so thrilled to make a thousand pounds.”
Simon suggested it was the brilliant simplicity of Captain Tom’s initial idea, coupled with his compassion, which had captured the collective imagination.
He added: “Less is more – at the end of the day all fundraising will rebound off the back of Tom – he’s set the benchmark.
“Nobody else has come close to raising what he has.”
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