Captain Tom Moore has today officially opened a new Nightingale hospital via video-link alongside Health Secretary Matt Hancock which will provide an extra 500 beds for coronavirus patients.
The 99-year-old veteran, who was invited to do the honours for the site in Harrogate after raising a staggering £27million for the NHS, appeared at a virtual ceremony this afternoon.
The war hero follows in the footsteps of Prince Charles, Prince William and the Duchess of Cornwall, who have all opened Nightignale field hospitals this month.
Speaking earlier today, Captain Tom, who raised the huge sum during the coronavirus pandemic by completing 100 laps of his garden at his home in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, said it was ‘one of those things you never think would ever happen.’
He told BBC Breakfast: ‘For me to be opening a new hospital in Harrogate is outstanding. All the people in that area have done so well to produce a new hospital in such a short time.’
The 99-year-old veteran who was invited to do the honours for the site in Harrogate after raising a staggering £27million for the NHS by completing 100 laps of his garden, appeared at a virtual ceremony
The interior of the NHS Nightingale Hospital in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, which is one of a network of seven sites providing surge capacity across England during the coronavirus pandemic
More than 500 extra beds for Covid-19 patients have been installed at the Harrogate Convention Centre.
More than 500 extra beds for Covid-19 patients have been installed at the Harrogate Convention Centre. The extra capacity adds to other Nightingale hospitals being opened in London, Birmingham and Manchester.
NHS England said the hospital had opened less than three weeks after work started and would provide extra beds if local services needed them.
Steve Russell, chief executive of the new hospital in North Yorkshire, called the project an ‘extraordinary achievement’ and a ‘vital insurance policy which we hope will not be needed’.
He also encouraged people to keep following social distancing rules, and added: ‘Our doctors, nurses, therapists and other health and social care staff across Yorkshire and the Humber are working incredibly hard to make sure people get the care they need during what is the single greatest challenge in the history of the NHS, but they can’t do it alone.’
The extra capacity adds to other Nightingale hospitals being opened in London, Birmingham and Manchester. Pictured is the site before beds and equipment were brought in
A photograph issued by NHS England of the NHS Nightingale Hospital in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, during construction
NHS England said the hospital had opened less than three weeks after work started and would provide extra beds if local services needed them. Pictured: The hospital during construction
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was ‘an honour’ to open the hospital alongside Captain Tom and said he was ‘incredibly impressed by the sheer dedication, professionalism and altruism’ of those involved in the project.
He added: ‘My heartfelt thanks also goes out to all the staff who will be working on the ground, providing extra capacity for patients if local hospitals need it.’
Last week the Duchess of Cornwall described the NHS Nightingale Hospital North West at the Manchester Central Convention Centre as bringing ‘light to a dark time’ at its official opening.
Speaking in a video from her Scottish home at Birkhall, Camilla said: ‘In creating this Nightingale hospital, you have truly brought light to a dark time. But this is not surprising. Manchester is a past master at bringing light to dark times.
It was the third Nightingale hospital to open, after others in London and Birmingham, and will provide oxygen therapy and general medical care to those not needing critical care.
British World War II veteran Captain Tom Moore, 99, with his walking frame doing a lap of his garden in the village of Marston Moretaine, 50 miles north of London
The Duke of Cambridge spoke via videolink as he officially opened the NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham, in the National Exhibition Centre last week
Prince Charles opened the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel Centre in East London via videolink from his Scottish home at Birkhall on April 3
On April 3 Prince Charles officially opened the first NHS Nightingale at the Excel centre in east London, and Prince William, who last appeared via video-link to praise the ‘selfless commitment’ of NHs staff when he opened the NHS Nightingale Hospital in Birmingham.
After the Nightignale Hospital in Harrogate, there are three others under construction, which are in Washington, Tyne and Wear; Exeter, Devon; and Bristol.
Captain Tom, who was born in Keighley, West Yorkshire, originally aimed to raise £1,000 for NHS Charities Together.
However his incredible feat captured the imagination of the nation, and he has won praise from royals including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
Earlier today Captain Tom wished the Queen a happy 94th birthday.
Captain Tom Moore wished the Queen a happy birthday from his Bedfordshire home as he was flooded with cards ahead of his centenary. His message said: ‘Happy Birthday your majesty. With the highest regards, Captain Tom Moore’
Captain Moore was posted to India where he fought in the Arakan Campaign of 1942 to 1943 during the Second World War
The Second World War veteran, who crowdfunded the sum by walking lengths of his garden in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, sent out a message to the monarch saying: ‘Happy Birthday your majesty… With the highest regards, Captain Tom Moore’.
Captain Tom will turn 100 on April 30 – and the South Midlands Mail Centre in Northampton has already dealt with more than 25,000 birthday cards sent to him, with no doubt more to come before the day itself.
Staff at the mail centre have now reprogrammed sorting machines to separate Captain Tom’s mail into a dedicated collection box, and are now expecting to deal with hundreds of thousands of cards and letters in the next few days.
War hero Captain Moore is pictured with his two daughters Lucy and Hannah in a post on his Twitter account
Captain Tom’s daughter Lucy Teixeira said she ‘just can’t believe what has happened’ following her father’s fundraising, telling BBC Breakfast: ‘My heart is bursting… Well done, Daddy.’
She added: ‘I’m having to get used to the thought of sharing you with millions and millions of people.’
Captain Tom has said plans for his 100th birthday party were affected by the lockdown, but the huge swathes of support the country has voiced for him was ‘a party enough for me’.
He had started raising money to thank NHS staff who helped him with cancer treatment and a broken hip – and has since launched a cover of You’ll Never Walk Alone with Michael Ball and the NHS Voices of Care Choir
Captain Tom Moore yesterday revealed that Dame Vera Lynn sent him a letter after he finished his 100th lap for the NHS.
The 99-year-old received the touching tribute from the sweetheart of the armed forces after he knocked her off the top of the singles charts with his You’ll Never Walk Alone fundraising single.
Captain Tom today said he was ‘rather sorry’ for scooping the top spot and said he was ‘amazed’ to have heard from Dame Vera.
From Yorkshire to India: Captain Tom Moore’s career in the military
Captain Tom Moore was conscripted into the British Army in June 1940 when he was 20, alongside all men aged 20 to 35.
He began his military career in Otley, West Yorkshire, where he joined the 8th Battalion, the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment under Lieutenant Lord George Saville.
The Regiment was sent to train in Wadebridge, Cornwall where they were tasked with coastal defence amid a predicted German invasion.
A young Captain Moore was soon promoted to Corporal and sent to the officer cadet training unit in Droitwich Spa.
Here, he celebrated his 21st birthday after he passed as a Second Lieutenant.
In August 1941, he was sent to the DWR headquarters in Halifax where he joined the 9th Battalion at Winchcombe.
The infantry battalion then converted to an armoured regiment 146th Royal Armoured Corp, though the majority of the soldiers could not drive.
In October, the unit was posted to Bombay, now Mumbai, in India. The journey took six weeks by sea, with a four-day delay in Freetown, Sierra Leone and a four-day stop in Cape Town.
Captain Moore then took a train from Bombay to Poona, before arriving at Kirkee, a town now known as Khadki.
The 9th DWR formed the 50th Indian Tank Brigade under the command of Brigadier Schreiber.
Captain Moore was then asked by the Brigadier to start a motorcycling course for the Brigade due to his expertise for the sport.
The Brigade was then ordered to move to Calcutta – the road journey was in a monsoon and took three weeks.
His Battalion was stationed in the Lohardaga district near Ranchi.
They then took part in two exercises in the Arakan before moving further east and south to Rangoon.
Captain Moore was then sent on a course at the approved vehicle depot in Bovington, England.
He remained here as an instructor until it was closed.