Ground control to Captain Tom: commencing countdown, fundraisers on. Oh yes, the old boy done good and managed to go ‘viral’. We Brits love an underdog, generally of a sporting persuasion - I refer you to Eddie of the Eagle and Frank of the Bruno before I rest my case. But now, in what can only be described as astounding, centenarion Captain Tom Moore, has inadvertently usurped all underdog human interest stories that came before him, and raised nigh on £33 million by walking around his garden with his wingman, Corporal Zimmer. To boot, he has also achieved a Guinness world record by becoming the oldest person, by a colossal 37 years, to score a number 1 single, although he did have to do an Alfie Boe and share the limelight a little with Michael Ball.

It is a story of modern times and will be spoken about fondly in years to come on Channel 5 in one of their assemblage of cheap ‘a look back to the 2020’s’ shows. Adding little to the cultural enrichment of the UK, the shows at least afford some airtime to Z-listers such as Rowland Rivron, some long forgotten bit part player from Big Brother circa 2007, and Maggot of Wales’s only rap group: Goldie Looking Chain.

Band Aid undoubtedly awoke our senses to the possibilities to the dual might of entertainment and charity, raising money for all manner of beneficiaries, yet even the might of Weller, Bono and Collins ‘only’ managed to raise a total of 24 million bucks.

It might be argued that Captain Tom has brought back the previously frowned upon attribute of Britishness: the blighty, never say die, don’t give up, bulldog, eccentric, attitude, as a man, proudly wearing his military uniform of yesteryear, takes it upon himself to walk through the pain of age and all that entails, to lap his garden one hundred times. A selfless act that has brought us all together as we coo over his exploits as if he were a new-born child smiling for the first time?

The monies he is raising go towards charities supporting the newest superheroes on the block, NHS workers, but his tale has opened up a debate as to why it should take a geriatric to do such a thing to raise funds. Is the NHS badly funded? The answer to that depends on who you listen to and on which side of the political divide you lie. Is the NHS badly run? Having temped at St Thomas’ many years ago, I should coco, but that should not slight those currently putting their lives at risk on the front line so that we may enjoy heady days this summer down the Dog and Duck if we should be so inclined and if the lockdown continues on its current downward trajectory.

If Captain Tom had not raised the £33 million would the Government have ‘pumped’ another such amount into the system? Arguably so, but we would still have given gladly, as it makes us feel warm inside and, in the absence of us each being given the opportunity to do our bit toward overcoming the crisis, shows our appreciation for the effort one man has put in to do the right thing, which is the point it leads us to now.

We rightly revere those who are doing their utmost to keep the good ship Britain afloat, yet many of us, in years to come, will not have tales to regale our offspring with as to what ‘we’ did towards the national effort to overcome a problem that was not of our doing, but where the baton was passed to us anyway despite none of us wanting to take part in the relay. No, a donation to Captain Tom is a good thing, not just for charity, but because, in lieu of being able to buy some inane crap from shops that remain shut, we have channelled those funds into making ourselves feel better, if only for a short while, and I for one salute that. Captain Tom deserves all the plaudits coming his way and, as the sun begins to set over a man with indomitable spirit in his soul and a kindness in his heart, we should be thankful for people like him who make our world a little brighter in our global hour of need.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher