An artist impression shows what the statue of WWII veteran, and British Covid hero, Captain Sir Tom Moore, could look like
Boris Johnson last night joined the national clamour for a statue of Britain’s Covid hero, Captain Sir Tom Moore.
Asked to back the Daily Mail’s call for a permanent public memorial to the Second World War veteran, the Prime Minister said it was something that the country could get behind.
Capt Tom – who raised an astonishing £33million for the NHS by walking laps of his garden in lockdown – died on Tuesday at 100 after testing positive for Covid-19.
Praising this newspaper’s ‘excellent’ initiative, Mr Johnson said he would work with Capt Tom’s family to decide the most fitting tribute.
It came as MPs, celebrities, campaigners and the nation united to back the Mail’s rallying cry for a memorial.
Meanwhile, Britain came to a standstill last night to clap for a man who fought for his country both in the war and when the pandemic hit.
Asked about the Mail campaign, Mr Johnson told a Downing Street news conference: ‘On the issue of a statue for Captain Tom Moore, a public memorial of some kind to Captain Tom, I’m absolutely of course open to that.
‘I know that that’s the kind of thing that people would want to support and we’ll be working with his family to see what they feel is most appropriate and be taking that forward… so I think your campaign is an excellent one.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson takes part in a media briefing in Downing Street today in London, England. Mr Johnson today suggested a statue be built of Captain Tom Moore
British armed forces veteran Captain Tom Moore completes the 100th length of his back garden in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, Britain on 16 April last year
PM Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds are pictured joining the nation to clap for Captain Sir Tom Moore earlier today
Mr Johnson also paid tribute to the war hero, saying he had ‘raised more money and achieved more in his 100th year than perhaps any centenarian in our history’.
Capt Tom’s fundraising for NHS workers became a focal point for the nation’s gratitude to frontline staff at the height of the pandemic.
And his positive messages – such as ‘Tomorrow will be a good day’ – gave hope during what the Prime Minister yesterday called the country’s ‘deepest post-war crisis’.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which takes the lead on statues, said it ‘strongly backed’ the initiative and that details about where the monument might go were being worked out.
No10 sources said they would be asking Capt Tom’s family and the public for their views on how to honour him.
‘There’ll be loads of great ideas and we’ll look at them all,’ a source added. ‘The PM is open to the idea and we’re looking at how we can take it on.’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer last night said a statue would be a ‘fitting tribute’, adding: ‘Captain Sir Tom Moore was a true British hero.’ Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said: ‘Captain Sir Tom was a shining light of hope for our country in a dark time.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, pictured during the clap for Captain Sir Tom Moore, said a statue to the WWII veteran would be a ‘fitting tribute’
‘This is a great Daily Mail campaign and it would be fantastic for there to be a permanent statue to Captain Sir Tom to commemorate his service to the nation.’
Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the Defence Committee, added: ‘When our generation looks back at this time, Sir Tom will forever be symbolic both of the tragedy of this pandemic and the resilience displayed by the British people doing extraordinary things.’
Military figures also hailed the war veteran, with former Chief of the General Staff Lord Dannatt saying: ‘To have a memorial or statue is a very fitting thing – to remind people in years to come that committed individuals can make a difference.’
Tory MP Colonel Bob Stewart, a retired Army officer, suggested a statue to Capt Tom should show him ‘with his zimmer frame, medals and his wonderful smile’. Brigadier Andrew Meek, president of the Duke of Wellington’s Regimental Association of which Capt Tom was a member, said a statue was a ‘wonderful idea’.
Tory MP Robbie Moore, whose West Yorkshire constituency covers the 100-year-old’s birthplace of Keighley, said: ‘He brought a glimmer of hope to all and inspired a whole nation.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘I will ensure we mark his contribution properly and appropriately at the right moment.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘I will ensure we mark his contribution properly and appropriately at the right moment’
A minute’s silence was held during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday for Capt Tom and all who have died in the pandemic. Mr Johnson also encouraged the public to clap for him and ‘all those health workers for whom he raised money’ at 6pm last night.
A groundswell of support for a memorial began as soon as Capt Tom died 11 days after catching Covid-19. He had already been battling pneumonia for several weeks.
Bedford Hospital, where he died, is planning a permanent memorial. Some suggested a statue could be placed on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square or in his hometown.
Celebrities backed the Mail initiative, with Carol Vorderman saying: ‘He deserves a stone in Westminster Abbey.’
Amanda Holden said listeners to her radio show had been asking for a statue, adding: ‘He was a real beacon of light in a time of darkness.’