HEROIC Captain Tom Moore celebrated his 100th birthday today and thanked Lancashire Telegraph readers for helping him raise almost £30million for the NHS.

The former soldier – whose fund-raising efforts during the coronavirus pandemic have made him famous – took time out from opening the125,000 birthday cards sent by well-wishers from across the globe to deliver a personal message to readers who have donated.

He said: “I am so deeply and sincerely grateful to the tremendous British public and especially the readers of the Lancashire Telegraph for their help. You have shown me so much love.

“When we started off with this exercise, we did not anticipate we would get anything near that sort of money. It is really amazing.

“I would like to say a big thank you to all the readers who have sent me birthday congratulations.

“The tremendous British public have shown me so much love. You have repurposed and re-energised me, and for that I will be forever grateful.”

East Lancashire politicians and health service bosses last night joined together to wish him a happy birthday and praised him as an ‘inspiration’ to everyone.

Captain Tom, born in Keighley and now living in Marston Moretaine in Bedfordshire, hoped to raise a few thousand pounds for the NHS by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday today.

Donations poured in from all over the world, and with the total at almost £30m last night, the former Army officer who served in Burma during the Second World War holds the record for the largest sum raised by an individual charity walk.

And he is the oldest person to have a No1 single in the UK charts after recording ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ with singer Michael Ball.

Blackburn MP Kate Hollern said: “Captain Tom Moore’s achievement is absolutely fantastic and an inspiration to us all. Tom’s determination really shows us how important it is for us to support the amazing efforts of our NHS workers who risk their lives every day. Well done Tom, and happy birthday!”

Ribble Valley MP and House of Commons deputy speaker Nigel Evans said: “I sent Captain Tom Moore a birthday card from Parliament. I told him that he is an inspiration to the nation and that, in addition to raising millions for frontline health charities, he has raised smiles and spirits throughout the country.”

Kevin McGee, chief executive of the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Captain Tom is an inspiration to us all and his achievement is awesome. On behalf of everyone in the ELHT family I wish Tom the happiest birthday, and say a massive thank you to him and his family who have all worked so hard on our behalf.

“His way of paying tribute to the NHS and key workers caught the imagination of millions. A truly amazing man.”

Professor Dominic Harrison, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s public health director, said: “Captain Tom Moore is a real star. His enormous efforts to raise funding for the NHS have been really heroic and the public’s response has been overwhelming.

“That it is Tom’s 100th birthday confirms another important lesson for us all: being kind and giving to others is good for our own health, wellbeing and life expectancy.

Hyndburn MP Sara Britcliffe said: “I would like to wish Tom a very happy 100th birthday and I hope he has a lovely day. He really is a national hero and I know that we all are sincerely thankful for his unbelievable achievement.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council leader Cllr Mohammed Khan said: “Captain Tom’s efforts have cheered up the country in these challenging times. He is an amazing person who has lifted the nation. Happy birthday Captain Tom from everyone in the borough.”

Dr Mark Dziobon, medical director for the NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “What this gentleman has done is truly remarkable.”

Cllr Geoff Driver, leader of the county council, said: “Happy birthday Captain Tom. You are an inspiration to us all”

Councillor Charlie Briggs, leader of Burnley Council, said: “Captain Tom has been an inspiration to us all with his determination and commitment to helping others. He is a true hero.”

Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham said: “Captain Tom has been an inspiration to us all and I would like to wish him a very happy 100th birthday. A true hero in every sense, he has shown the very best of our country and kept us captivated with his fantastic fundraising”.

Cllr Miles Parkinson, leader of Hyndburn Council said; “Happy 100th birthday Captain Tom. You are an inspiration to all of us and your achievement in raising such an astonishing amount of funds for our wonderful NHS is absolutely amazing.

“You make us all proud and personify the spirit of the people of Britain doing their bit in the battle against Covid 19.”

Ribble Valley Council leader Cllr Stephen Atkinson said: “Captain Tom Moore will be remembered as a great British hero, whose spirit and generosity captured the public’s hearts during the coronavirus pandemic and highlighted the bravery and dedication of health and care workers.”

Cllr Alyson Barnes, leader of Rossendale Council, said: “Happy birthday Captain Tom. You certainly cheered up the nation with your exploits during this very dark time. What you have achieved is nothing short of a miracle.”