Sir Captain Tom raised millions for NHS charities last year when he set on completing laps in his garden and left behind a lasting legacy with The Captain Tom Foundation
A hundred laps in his 100th year catapulted Captain Sir Tom Moore into our hearts… but it is comical footprints from his wellies that his family will miss this year.
The fundraising champion pretended to be Santa by leaving boot marks around the house.
His ever-proud daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore chuckles: “Back in the day he’d put on his wellies and create an imprint, in fake instant snow, that ran down the hall, all the way from the chimney, then to our Christmas tree.
“We live off the joy – the hilarious stories of us living together. So now my children do it. Even though it’s completely ridiculous!”
This is the first Noel – or no wellie – without Sir Tom, who lived with Hannah and her family for 13 years.
In an exclusive interview, Hannah admits that despite the pain of an empty chair at the dinner table this year, his presence will be felt.
In the 10 months since he died, Hannah is reminded almost daily of the lives he has saved through his message of hope and positivity.
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Sir Tom raised a mighty £33million for NHS Charities Together by lapping the garden 100 times.
Hannah now runs The Captain Tom Foundation and she “consults” him daily over key decisions.
“Dad steers me all the time,” she says. “I talk to him in my head, especially about the Foundation. I’ll think, ‘Would you agree with this, Dad’?”
Sir Tom, who died after contracting pneumonia and coronavirus, was knighted by The Queen for his remarkable effort at the family home in Marston, Moretaine, Beds.
©2021 Steve Bainbridge)
Hannah , 49, husband Colin and their kids Benji, 17, and Georgia, 13, miss him greatly but have the fondest memories.
She goes on: “The pure, unadulterated grief doesn’t go away. I still turn as if I’m going into his room to catch up. I went in yesterday with Georgia. I said ‘Let’s go make Grandpa’s room happy’ and we sat on his bed and watched her TV.
“Benji still uses ‘Grandpa’s fixing shed’. He’s doing A-level Design Technology because of their relationship.”
Last Christmas the spotlight was on Sir Tom and his family as they enjoyed a holiday to Barbados – a welcome break after the exertions of 2020.
There is joy, emotion and a Sir Tom like twinkling eye as Hannah recalls: “ My happiest memory of that was the look on his face as Georgia came out of the sea. I think he just felt elation that he’d lived to see her grow up into a young woman. It was pure magic.
“It will be hard this Christmas… this year is just the four of us because my sister and her family are away.
“There’s an empty chair, where he would sit. But we will fill that loss.”
The kids used to rouse Grandpa at Christmas. Hannah says: “Georgia would come back and say, ‘well, he’s definitely still alive,’ in the way only kids can. When he eventually got up he’d arrive and say, ‘huh, the table is all laid’. ‘Yes Dad, you were sleeping,’ I’d say. ‘No, I was not asleep!’ he’d reply – and the room filled with laughter.”
After nearly two years of Covid, and now new variant Omicron, what would Sir Tom say to people – and to those doubting vaccination?
Hannah tells us: “He’d very much say, ‘The tough times can feel like they go on a long time, but they do always get better’. His life of 100 years had some very difficult times in it. He was born into Spanish flu. He then fought in a war at the age of 20. But we have to look to the future and never lose hope that a better day is coming.
“Dad would be saying he understood people’s anxiety’s over the speed of the vaccine rollout, but we must look a little inward, reflect and treat it as a social responsibility.
“I think he’d be saying ‘Do it for other people’. But I don’t think we should mandate people to have the vaccine. We don’t want to be forcing anyone’s hand, rather just to reflect.”
Next week, the Foundation will reveal a major revamp of future plans – tightly under wraps for now.
©2021 Steve Bainbridge)
One of its missions has been to help tackle loneliness. Hannah says: “I get stopped all the time. Many are veterans, who say just knowing our family supports them and recognises they exist, allows them to live with hope every day.
“Somebody else said to me, ‘You do know you save lives don’t you? It never occurred to me and in that moment I was like, ‘oh… thank you’.” Such feedback makes her chats with Sir Tom yet more poignant.
Hannah adds: “I visited his grave in Yorkshire a few weeks ago and had a little word. It’s lovely that he’s buried alongside other family I never knew.
“I said to him, ‘I hope you are all happy together. How do you feel about ‘Young Tom’ connecting the world? “And he really has, hasn’t he?”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.