U.K vet 'Captain Tom' knighted by Queen Elizabeth II after raising millions for health service

"I could never have imagined this would happen to me," Sir Tom said about Friday's ceremony at Windsor Castle.

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By Linda Givetash

LONDON — The WWII veteran who raised millions for Britain's National Health Service during the coronavirus pandemic was bestowed the highest of accolades on Friday, receiving knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.

Sir Tom Moore, whose fundraising campaign captured the hearts of the country, met with the Queen at Windsor Castle for a private ceremony, held outdoors in the sunshine with members of his family.

Elizabeth spoke for several minutes with the captain, who served in India, Burma and Sumatra during World War Two and thanked him for the "amazing" amount of money he raised.

The centenarian began his campaign to support the health service in April by pledging to walk 100 laps around his 50-yard-long garden before his 100th birthday. His daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, who proposed the idea, hoped it would simply encourage the veteran to stay active during the coronavirus lockdown.

Leading up to his April 30 birthday, Moore took out his walker daily to complete lengths outside his home in Marston Moretaine, a small village around 50 miles north of London.

Sir Thomas Moore after he was awarded with the insignia of Knight Bachelor by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II on Friday.Chris Jackson / Getty Images

He ultimately raised a 33 million pounds ($41 million) — far outstripping his initial goal of 1,000 pounds, or $1,244.

On celebrating his 100th birthday, the country celebrated with him with a flypast of two Second World War-era aircraft.

Moore was also given the new title of honorary colonel, having previously been a captain.

Britain's Ministry of Defence presented Moore with a replacement Second World War Defence medal in April after officials noticed through his recent media appearances that he was missing it.

Ahead of meeting the queen on Friday, Sir Tom said in a tweet that he was excited about the event and considered it a huge honor.

"I could never have imagined this would happen to me," he said. "It is going to be the most special of days for me."

His daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore, son-in-lawColin Ingram, grandson Benji and granddaughter Georgia, also attended the ceremony.

The queen, who turned 94 in April, has been sheltering at Windsor since March. She made her first public appearance since the pandemic struck last month with a scaled-back celebration for her birthday.

Earlier on Friday, the monarch attended a private wedding ceremony for her granddaughter Beatrice of York.

Reuters contributed to this report.