British World War II veteran Captain Tom Moore, who turns 100 on April 30, poses with his walking frame doing a lap of his garden in the village of Marston Moretaine
London (AFP) - A 99-year-old British World War II veteran who has become a global phenomenon for his fundraising efforts had on Friday raised almost £20 million ($25 million, 23 million euros) for health workers fighting coronavirus.
Tom Moore, a captain who served in India, completed his target of 100 laps of his 25-metre (82-foot) garden, with the help of his walking frame, on Thursday but is still pacing his grounds as the funds continue to pour in.
By Friday evening local time he had raised a total of £19,701,645.51.
Around 900,000 people have now sponsored the veteran, who has provided a much-needed good news story to a public inundated with grim pandemic coverage, with politicians, royals and celebrities praising him as an "inspiration".
"Thank you so much for your INCREDIBLE support and generosity so far," said the captain, who turns 100 at the end of the month, in his latest Twitter update.
Moore initially set himself the goal of raising £1,000 for a National Health Service (NHS) charity in time for his birthday, after receiving treatment for cancer and a broken hip.
But his efforts have made him a global star during a pandemic that has killed more than 140,000 people, including almost 14,000 in Britain alone.
"It's incredible, it's amazing," Britain's Prince William said of his achievement.
"He's been around a long time, he knows everything, it's wonderful that everyone has been inspired by his story and determination."
- 'Legend' -
England football captain Harry Kane said Moore was "an inspiration... to the whole country".
"Incredible effort by an amazing man to raise money for our NHS workers who are doing heroic work," he wrote in a message retweeted by Moore.
Fellow sporting giant Lewis Hamilton offered his congratulations to the "legend".
"I am blown away by his amazing achievement. Congratulations Captain Tom, we could all learn something from you!," wrote the six-time Formula One champion.
The final lap of his garden in Bedfordshire, south England, was met with a guard of honour from the Yorkshire Regiment and broadcast live on British TV on Thursday.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested on Thursday that he was looking at ways to reward Moore.
"From his military contributions to his support for NHS staff, Tom has demonstrated a lifetime of bravery and compassion," he said.
"The prime minister will certainly be looking at ways to recognise Tom for his heroic efforts."
Johnson is currently off work recovering from coronavirus after being released on Sunday from a week-long stay in hospital.
Meanwhile, a second OAP is attempting to raise funds for the NHS through a charity walk -- this time on the stairs of her house.
Margaret Payne, 90, aims to climb the equivalent height of Highland mountain Suilven - 731m (2,398ft) - with 282 trips upstairs at her Sutherland home, in the Scottish Highlands.
She set a target of £10,000 but by Friday had raised £136,225.75.
"I would like to raise funds to support the NHS in particular at this difficult time," she wrote on her fundraising page.