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Britain applauds WWII veteran and NHS fundraising hero Sir Tom Moore

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Captain Sir Tom Moore has died with coronavirus aged 100
Captain Sir Tom Moore has died with coronavirus aged 100   -   Copyright  AP
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Captain Sir Tom Moore, the Second World War veteran who raised millions of euros for British healthcare services, received applause from across the UK on Wednesday a day after he fell victim to the coronavirus.

His family confirmed his death on Tuesday with a memorial tweet on his official account.

The 100-year-old, known as Captain Tom by his fans, had been treated for pneumonia over the last few weeks, before eventually testing positive for COVID-19. He was taken to hospital in Bedford on Sunday for help with his breathing.

On Monday evening, the hospital said his family had travelled to be with him.

Captain Tom grew to become something of a national treasure to Britons last year after the centenarian walked laps of his garden for charity.

Initially aiming to raise £1,000 (€1,100) for healthcare workers in the UK's first lockdown, this goal was quickly smashed as he attracted legions of supporters all over the world - including celebrities and royals - eventually bringing in more than £32m (€36m).

His efforts later saw him knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in a special ceremony at Windsor Castle. Other investitures over the summer had been postponed due to the virus, but Buckingham Palace decided Captain Tom's case was exceptional.

On Tuesday, a statement from the royal family said the queen had sent a private message of condolence, and added that she had "very much enjoyed" meeting Captain Tom to knight him.

Chris Jackson/AP
Despite the investiture postponements, Queen Elizabeth II made an exception for Captain TomChris Jackson/AP

Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust also released a statement on Tuesday saying it had been "an immense privilege" to care for the former army officer in his final days.

"We share our deepest condolences and sympathies with his family and loved ones at this incredibly sad time," said chief nurse Liz Lees OBE. "We'd also like to say thank you and pay tribute to Captain Sir Tom Moore for the remarkable contribution he made to the NHS.

"We will not be providing any further comment and ask members of the public and media to respect the privacy of Captain Sir Tom's family at this difficult time."

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid tribute to "a hero in the truest sense of the word" as he referred to the veteran's service during the Second World War and his pandemic actions that have "united us all".

"He cheered us all up and he embodied the triumph of the human spirit," Johnson said in a recorded video message. "He became not just a national inspiration but a beacon of hope for the world. Our thoughts today are with his daughter Hannah and all his family, and his legacy will long live after him."