Captain Sir Tom Moore, who became a hero of the UK’s first national lockdown for his fundraising efforts, has announced a nationwide walking campaign encouraging people to raise money for mental health and well-being causes during November’s lockdown in England.
The Second World War veteran raised £33 million for NHS Charities, the charitable arm of the UK’s National Health Service, when he set out to walk 100 laps of his garden by his 100th birthday on April 30. The huge success of the campaign made global headlines and the captain received a knighthood in May for his feat — even signing off the rights to a biopic film of his life.
Not content to rest there, Moore set up a foundation with the specific aim of helping people struggling with loneliness and bereavement during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Loneliness is something millions of people have been dealing with this year, the Mental Health Foundation, a think-tank that focuses on mental health, warns. According to a survey the foundation did in April during the last lockdown, one in four people (24%) said they had felt lonely during the previous two weeks.
The Captain Tom Foundation, which launched in September, works with four other charities: the mental health charity Mind; the Royal British Legion, which supports veterans; the Helen and Douglas House children’s hospice in Oxfordshire; and Willen Hospice in Milton Keynes.
Moore told reporters: "We've got to consider that during this next coming period there are going to be a lot of unhappy people who are lonely and frightened and we need to go out and help those people.”
"We are in a difficult situation but we'll get through it if we all join together,” he added.
Captain Tom has a message for you “Let's stand shoulder to shoulder (metaphorically!). Let’s try not to get downhearted, we will get through this. Let's walk together to keep our spirits up and support those who are lonely"#WalkWithTomhttps://t.co/8nOe9qQj4wpic.twitter.com/pfwU1EAMAG— Captain Tom Moore (@captaintommoore) November 5, 2020
The challenge, which launched on Nov. 5, the first day of national lockdown restrictions in England (Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, are also experiencing tighter restrictions) encourages people to log their walking on social media using the hashtag #WalkWithTom during the rest of the month.
Any kind of walking, whether it’s a marathon long walk, or laps of the garden, or a toddler’s first steps, count as part of the challenge, according to the campaigners.
“Captain Sir Tom is on a mission to encourage everyone to walk — at home, outside, in the garden, in the park — anywhere at all,” the organisers wrote on the Captain Tom Foundation website. “Walk to help yourself and keep your mind happy, together let’s spread hope and ease loneliness.”
Anyone who wants to take part can do so via the Foundation’s JustGiving page, where people can sign up and organise donations.
Speaking to the BBC, Moore’s daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, said her father’s efforts had helped to put them in a position to do further campaigns like this. "The family has been given an incredible gift of a voice and platform to do powerfully positive things with,” she said.
As well as running initiatives like this, Moore has published an autobiography, Tomorrow Will be a Good Day, and a children’s book titled 100 Steps about adventure and never giving up, the proceeds of which go to his foundation.