Covid brought out the best and the worst in us.
The pandemic threw up heroes and villains.
Captain Tom was a hero. His daughter – yes, the one that built a spa pool in his name and called it an office, the one that pocketed £16,000 for attending a charity event in his name – maybe not a villain, but pretty dumb, for sure.
During Covid there were plenty of villains – two-faced politicians who ignored their own rules, partied in lockdown and handed out lucrative contracts to their mates. Fiddling with the facts and manipulating the ‘truth’ about the risks the virus posed.
On the plus side, our NHS workers rose to the challenge and beyond. We stood in the street once a week and clapped their achievements.
The pandemic threw individuals into the spotlight, heroes who touched all our lives in those months of misery and isolation.
Covid brought out the best and the worst in us. The pandemic threw up heroes and villains. Captain Tom was a hero
His daughter – yes, the one that built a spa pool in his name and called it an office, the one that pocketed £16,000 for attending a charity event in his name – maybe not a villain, but pretty dumb, for sure
One man summed up the British fighting spirit in the face of disease and death: Captain Tom Moore, the 99-year-old who became the biggest charity fund raiser in history.
On 6th April 2000, this retired Army Captain – with a hip replacement and two new knees – decided to walk 100 times around his garden in Bedfordshire, wearing his campaign medals. His aim was to raise £1,000 for NHS charities in the 24 days until his 100th birthday.
Captain Tom was hugely successful: he raised over £38 MILLION, had a record-breaking number one hit with Michael Ball, and was knighted by Her Majesty the Queen.
This quiet man who had fought in India and Burma in WWII became a national hero, giving up to 30 interviews a day. Always polite and humble, Captain Tom became a global star in a very short space of time.
Proof that out of tragedy, human beings can shine and offer hope and inspiration to others.
JANET STREET-PORTER: The pandemic threw individuals into the spotlight, heroes who touched all our lives in those months of misery and isolation
Less than a year later, Captain Tom was dead. In such a short time, he’d written three books and used his new-found fame to raise even more money for worthy causes. His face was on tea towels, mugs, beer bottles and magazine covers. Captain Tom achieved saint-like status, and rightly so.
Now, his name and legacy are being tarnished by his own daughter with her ham-fisted handling of the foundation she subsequently set up in his name. Hannah Ingram-Moore and her husband, together with their two children, were all living with Captain Tom in the family home in Bedfordshire in 2000 when he announced his Big Plan. There’s no doubt that Hannah loved and supported her dad during the media blitz that engulfed his extraordinary walk. Since his death in February 2021 however, she has made a series of extremely ill-advised decisions about how to exploit his legacy.
Hannah and her husband Colin (a chartered accountant) set up the Captain Tom Moore Foundation in June 2000, registering it as a charity to raise money for causes helping the elderly. The independent trustees appointed Hannah (a marketing executive with no charity experience) as a temporary CEO. She was paid around £70,000 including expenses during the first year.
Colin and Hannah already had another company – Matrix – which received about £24,000 in expenses for offices and telephone costs and £180,000 for staff, from the Tom Moore Foundation.
There was outrage when it was discovered that Hannah had made a planning application for a £200,000 extension to the family home in the name of the Foundation, allegedly for ‘offices’. When it was approved and then built, the construction actually housed a swimming pool, changing rooms, showers and toilets. More like a spa than a Tom Moore museum, or even an office. Neighbours describe the addition to the Grade 2-listed house as ‘an eyesore’.
Now, the Ingram-Moores are fighting a council decision (due next week) to annul the planning permission. They might have to pull down the building, or at the very least, remove the pool.
If the pool – using the name of a dead hero – wasn’t bad enough, worse emerged in an interview the hapless couple conducted with Piers Morgan this week.
Under forensic questioning, Hannah reluctantly admitted that over £800,000 profits from the sale of Captain Tom’s books had been channelled into another family company called Club Nook, and not the Foundation. She wriggled and whined and said ‘in hindsight’ an awful lot. But the fact is, she was skewered. She claimed her dad wanted the book money to go to the company and family, which turns out not to be completely true.
Captain Tom had written in the prologue to his autobiography Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day he hoped the book would raise more money for good causes, utterly contradicting his daughter’s lame excuse for pocketing hundreds of thousands of pounds of his money.
There’s no doubt that the public buying the books thought that some of the money – if not all – would be going to charity.
Hannah also accepted £18,000 to attend an awards ceremony in her dad’s name after his death, and only passed £2,000 of the fee onto the Foundation.
Hannah’s father was a one-in-a-million kind of person. Unfortunately, people who grow up next to greatness can get swept up in the excitement and bask in the reflected glory of the spotlight. Fame can be a drug, infectious and corrupting.
Hannah did not walk the walk. Her dad did, clinging to his wheelie walker and exhibiting the stoic character that got his through the war in the jungle.
Sure, she cared for her dad, she supported him at home and dealt with the press and the intrusion gracefully. But since Captain Tom’s death, there’s a lingering suspicion that Colin and Hannah are exploiting his legacy by running a business, not a charity.
The Charity Commissioners are investigating the Tom Moore Foundation, which is no longer accepting donations. This is an all-too-familiar story. There are far too many charities in the UK, run by amateurs with little supervision.
Tom Moore’s amazing achievement also brought out the best in the British public – people who had so little to spare during the pandemic, coughed up cash to help the NHS.
In recent months, mortgages and food prices have soared, and with winter around the corner, fuel bills will rise again. The numbers sleeping on the streets will go up. Charities will have a tough time raising donations at a time when there’s little cash to spare after paying household bills.
The foolish actions of Hannah Ingram-Moore will impact on all fundraising efforts, making it harder to help those in need.
She must close down the Foundation, return the book profits to charities better run than her own, and learn to adjust to life outside the spotlight.
Every time she opens her mouth in self-justification, she damages her father’s name.