Captain Sir Tom Moore has said that the country will get through the second lockdown together, as his charity urged people to walk and talk to each other.
The Second World War veteran, who raised more than £32 million for the NHS by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday during the first lockdown, has this week been speaking to lonely people on the phone.
He is also continuing to walk each day with his family.
As England entered its second lockdown on Thursday his charity – The Captain Tom Foundation – launched a campaign called Walk With Tom.
Its aim is to get as many people as possible walking and talking, spreading hope and easing loneliness.
Sir Tom said: “I would like us all to stand shoulder to shoulder – metaphorically!
“Let’s try not to get downhearted, we will get through this, whatever is thrown at us and together we can ensure that tomorrow will be a good day.”
His daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore said that her father “became a beacon of hope, and not just here but around the world for everyone who’s suffering the fallout of this terrible virus”.
“We have this incredible gift of this global platform, this voice, but what came with that was incredible responsibility,” she said.
She said that as soon as a second lockdown was hinted at, their phones began to ring with people asking what they planned to do.
This hit home further, she said, when people approached her and her daughter when they went food shopping.
“Within seconds of entering the supermarket we had been approached by several people who would say ‘oh you’re the daughter and granddaughter of Captain Sir Tom, what are we going to do, what impact is it going to have, will I be able to see my mum, will I be able to see my girlfriend, how are we going to cope, what are you going to do?’,” she said.
“And of course I’m sure everyone has seen the fun images that have floated around of my father picking up his trainers again.”
She said her family are “just an ordinary family doing what everyone else is doing” but wanted to help.
So the idea for Walk With Tom was created.
“Let’s pick up the phone, let’s wave at someone through their window, let’s talk, let’s try to combat loneliness in this lockdown and let’s walk,” said Ms Ingram-Moore.
“My father can’t pick up the mantle again but what he can do is lead the charge and lead us out to the next walk and let’s walk as a nation.
“Imagine what we can achieve as a nation if we’re walking and we’re talking to people at the same time, even with the regulations of only walking with one other.”
She said that combatting loneliness is “so meaningful” to Sir Tom and “so poignant to us as a family” due to seeing his late wife Pamela in a care home.
“She would say to him ‘I’m so glad you come and visit me every day because if you didn’t I would be so lonely’,” said Ms Ingram-Moore, adding that they realised some people in the care home never had visits.
“We feel that we have seen what terrible effects loneliness can have and we feel that we can really support and combat loneliness,” she said.
The foundation wants people to share their journeys, whether it be 100 laps like Sir Tom, a marathon or a toddler’s first steps, using #walkwithTom to support each other’s achievements.