Captain Sir Tom Moore believed he would come out of hospital alive and was looking forward to his 101st birthday celebrations, his daughter has said.
The Second World War veteran, who raised more than £32 million for the NHS by walking laps of his garden, died at Bedford Hospital on February 2 after testing positive for Covid-19.
His daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore said her father had told nurses ‘I’m coming back out’, and that she had laughed and reminisced with him during his final days in hospital.
She spoke of the difficult time for the family as she revealed details of the Captain Tom 100, with people being encouraged to take on a charity challenge themed around the number 100.
They are being asked to do so to celebrate Sir Tom’s spirit of generosity on what would have been the weekend of his 101st birthday, from April 30.
“None of us could have planned for what happened,” said Ms Ingram-Moore.
“My father definitely did not expect not to be here. That’s just a fact.
“But he was 100 and he was a very happy 100.
“He lived those 100 years, and the last year was simply extraordinary.
“How we feel is that we were not expecting him not to be with us and we miss him desperately.”
She said Sir Tom would tell nurses: “I’m coming back out, I’ve got a lot of fundraising to do, I’ve got my birthday celebration.”
Ms Ingram-Moore said: “While he was in those last few days in the hospital I don’t think he ever thought he wouldn’t come out, he never talks like that.
“We laughed and we had lovely times reminiscing, we reminisced incredibly about the crazy times of the last year.”
She went on: “Coming to terms with going into hospital believing that my father would come out to very quickly understanding that he wouldn’t was a massive shift in my emotional state.
“Then understanding how I was going to tell the world that felt like an incredible burden if I’m honest.”
She said a decision was made to tell people that Sir Tom was not well while he was in hospital.
“As he went to the hospital I phoned my sister and said ‘I think we need to start telling people he’s not well, I know that’s really hard but we have to communicate it because I cannot live with not telling people that he might not be well – I cannot live with myself if I go from saying he’s alive to not alive’,” she said.
The family had never lived at their home in Marston Moretaine without Sir Tom before his death, said Ms Ingram-Moore.
“What a lot of people don’t know is that when we moved in here my father sold his house, we sold our house, he was originally going to buy another house but we said ‘don’t waste your money, come and live with us’,” she said.
“So we drove in up the drive here in different lorries and we walked through the front door together.
“I don’t think many people realise that, I think they thought he came to live with us later. But no, we’ve never lived here without him.
“Georgia is only 12 and he lived here for 13-and-a-half years, so she knows nothing other than to live with him.
“He’s in the very fabric of the building, he’s all around us.”
She said that “we’re still a grieving family”, adding: “We’re sad and sometimes sadder than others, but we’re propelled forward by hope and we want (people) to come with us.”