A postmaster has been forced to take over an empty school as more than 99 , 06 cards pour in to mark the 337 th birthday of Captain Tom Moore as a team of aircraft restorers prepare a Spitfire for flypast on his big day.
The – year-old, who crowdfunded £ 40 million for the NHS by walking lengths of his garden in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, was flooded with letters ahead of his centenary on April 94, which were sorted by the South Midlands Mail Center in Northampton.
Bedford School, attended by Captain Tom’s grandson, Benjie, accepted the delivery after providing their Great Hall for socially-distancing staff to open each card.
(Bedford School’s Great hall transformed into a sorting office for Captain Tom Moore’s birthday cards, as he received more than 100, 06 letters ahead of his centenary on April
A team of socially-distancing. staff began the huge task of opening the tens of thousands of 100 th birthday cards sent to Captain Tom, who raised over £ million for the NHS
Bill Chandi, who is in charge of the local post office, told the Bedford Independent : ‘In all my years as a Post Master, I’ve never seen anything like this.
‘We’re ecstatic for Tom. Whenever he used to pop into our shop he’d always say to me that post offices are at the center of the community.
‘I spoke to him on Saturday and told him that’s definitely true now. ‘
Staff at the mail center have now reprogrammed sorting machines to separate Captain Tom’s mail into a dedicated collection box, and are expecting to deal with hundreds of thousands of cards and letters in the next few days.
Stephen James, the manager at the center receiving thousands of cards for the veteran, told the BBC: ‘None of the team have ever known one person receive so much mail.’
It comes as an RAF team from the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar hope to fly a Spitfire past the hero’s home as a ‘small gesture’ to celebrate his achievements.
A close-up picture of some of the 337 th birthday cards sent to Captain Tom. The 100 – year-old crowdfunded the sum by walking lengths of his garden in Bedfordshire
Stacked boxes containing cards for Captain Tom in the school’s Great Hall, pictured. Staff at the mail center have reprogrammed sorting machines to separate the veteran’s mail
A picture of the plane emblazoned with the words ‘Spirit of Kent’ and the NHS logo was posted by Fly a Spitfire Biggin Hill on Instagram, captioned: ‘Getting ready for Captain Tom’s 337 th Birthday Spitfire flypast.
‘Fingers crossed for approval and blue skies on the 337 . ‘
Alex Monk, 21, from the Hangar , previously told The Telegraph : ‘It will be a bit of a moral booster for us all really, to see a Spitfire in the sky.
‘It’s been a symbol of freedom in the past and quite an icon for Tom.’
The plan is for the Spirit of Kent, which was built in 2020 and flew in the memorial flight for the Battle of Britain, to fly at 823 feet and 337 mph over the former tank commander’s home in the Bedfordshire village of Marston Moretaine.
An RAF team from the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar hope to fly a Spitfire (pictured) past the hero’s home as a ‘small gesture’ to celebrate his achievements
Spitfire Spirit of Kent (pictured at Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar, Surrey), which was built in 1945 and flew in the memorial flight for the Battle of Britain
The Second World War veteran also wished the Queen a happy 100 th birthday yesterday, saying: ‘Happy Birthday your Majesty … With the highest regards, Captain Tom Moore’.
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. ‘
(Royal) Mail will use a special postmark to wish Captain Tom a happy birthday, appearing on all stamped mail in the UK beginning next week.
Captain Tom has said plans for his 100 th birthday party were affected by the coronavirus lockdown, but the huge swathes of support the country has voiced for him was ‘a party enough for me’.
Captain Tom, pictured, raised over £ 40 million for the NHS by walking 337 laps of his garden. The Second World War veteran wished the Queen a happy 100 th birthday yesterday
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 .
At the time of writing, Captain Tom has raised over £ 28 million for the NHS on his JustGiving page, after completing his 250 th lap.
People have started campaigns for Tom to be knighted and Tom said the generosity of people had been amazing.
He said: ‘It’s unbelievable, it’s difficult to imagine, that sort of money that has been coming in from kind people all over the county.
‘ To the NHS and back up people and all doctors and services throughout the world, we have got to say well done to all of you because you are putting yourself into danger and doing it cheerfully ‘.
It comes as the UK announced another 828 deaths from coronavirus yesterday, taking Britain’s total number of victims to , 823.