NHS charities will be “forever grateful” for Captain Sir Tom Moore’s achievements and his legacy will last for years, the head of the national charity caring for the health service has said.
The Second World War veteran raised £33 million after vowing to walk 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday in April 2020.
The cash went to the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 appeal, with funds providing bereavement support and helping isolated patients in hospital stay connected to family and friends through technology.
Ellie Orton, chief executive of NHS Charities Together, praised Sir Tom’s “phenomenal and unbelievable” fundraising as she paid tribute to him.
She told the PA news agency: “Everybody at NHS Charities Together is completely devastated to hear the news that Captain Sir Tom has passed away and our hearts and thoughts go out to his family and his friends at this time.
“He has made an absolutely lasting legacy for NHS charities and for the NHS throughout the whole of the country, and we will be forever grateful to him and to his family for everything that he has achieved.”
The Covid-19 appeal raised £150 million thanks to the support from Sir Tom and others, and more than £110 million has already been made available to the 241 member charities to help patients, staff and volunteers on the ground.
The charity has also been able to support the emotional and practical needs of staff, through counselling programmes and helplines, so that they can focus on their work at a time of immense pressure.
“There isn’t an NHS trust or health board that has not received funds from NHS Charities Together,” Ms Orton said.
She said as well as his own fundraising efforts, Sir Tom had inspired others to take on their own challenges to raise funds for NHS charities.
Ms Orton continued: “He really was a beacon of hope, the optimism that he brought in and hope to us in a really dark and difficult time for this nation and particularly for the NHS is just incredible.
“He is held in such amazing high regard, he is a national hero and his legacy will live on in the NHS for years and years to come.”
She said Sir Tom had provided the NHS with motivation during the first months of the pandemic, adding: “He lifted the spirits of an entire nation.
“Captain Tom’s legacy was about what he could do for others and how he saw the good in everything and how he was able to contribute to that.”
“He absolutely demonstrated that you’re never too old, you’re never too anything to care for people and to make a difference,” she continued.
NHS Charities Together said it has been working with members to support staff, volunteers and patients who are being disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 crisis, such as patients and staff from BAME communities and high-risk groups like those living with disabilities.
Funds are also being used to help the NHS in the future, to aid its recovery from the long-term impact of Covid-19 once the immediate crisis has abated.
NHS Charities Together is the umbrella organisation that brings together all the official charities of the NHS.