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British WWII veteran and fundraiser knighted by Queen

100-year-old Tom Moore became a coronavirus lockdown hero by raising millions for British health charities
100-year-old Tom Moore became a coronavirus lockdown hero by raising millions for British health charities Chris Jackson POOL/AFP/File
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Windsor (United Kingdom) (AFP)

A 100-year-old World War II veteran who became a coronavirus lockdown hero by raising millions for British health charities was knighted Friday in a special ceremony by Queen Elizabeth II.

Captain Tom Moore raised nearly £33 million ($41.3 million, 36.1 million euros) by completing 100 laps of his garden, winning hearts across Britain and plaudits around the world.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in May the Burma campaign veteran would be made a "Sir" in recognition of his achievement and for being a "beacon of light" in lockdown.

He had already been promoted to honorary colonel by the Yorkshire Regiment, and even got to number one in the charts in a collaboration with the singer Michael Ball.

The queen, 94, topped an extraordinary year for Moore by breaking her own enforced lockdown for a special open-air ceremony at her Windsor Castle home, west of London.

She has been staying at the sprawling castle with her 99-year-old husband Prince Philip since mid-March because their age puts them at high risk of contracting COVID-19.

The monarch, in an aquamarine frock coat and matching hat, dubbed Moore a knight of the realm using a sword belonging to her father, king George VI.

The queen chatted to Moore, who was dressed in a smart dark suit and supported by a walking frame, on the manicured castle quadrangle, and members of his family.

"Thank you so much, an amazing amount of money you raised," the monarch told him.

"I am absolutely overawed," Moore said afterwards. "This is such a high award and to get it from Her Majesty as well -- what more can anyone wish for?

"This has been an absolutely magnificent day for me."

It was the queen's first face-to-face meeting with a member of the public since her engagements were put on hold as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

She has, however, appeared on several videoconferencing calls from self-isolation.

Moore's remarkable fundraising effort came from modest beginnings.

He initially planned to raise £1,000 by walking around his garden in the village of Marston Moretaine, between Bedford and Milton Keynes in southern England, before he turned 100.

But his effort struck a chord with the public under stay-at-home restrictions, and donations came flooding in. He completed his goal on April 17.

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