United Kingdom

Sculpture of Colonel Tom Moore is unveiled the day before Queen knights him

A sculpture of Colonel Tom Moore is to be unveiled the day before he is knighted by the Queen, in tribute to his role as a 'beacon of light' during the coronavirus pandemic.

The bust of the Second World War veteran - complete with medals and the NHS fundraising hero's trademark blazer - was commissioned by Garry McBride, of Derbyshire-based Monumental Icons. 

Colonel Tom, who raised almost £33 million by walking laps of his Bedfordshire garden, is due to be knighted by the Queen in a personal open-air ceremony at Windsor Castle on Friday.

A bust of Colonel Tom Moore (left at him home in Bedfordshire and right the design) has been unveiled a day before he is knighted by the Queen

Colonel Tom raised almost £33 million by walking laps of his Bedfordshire garden during the coronavirus pandemic

Explaining why he had decided to commission and pay for the bust, Mr McBride said: 'When we were in lockdown, for the first time in my life, they said ''You have got to stay at home and do nothing''.

'Every television programme you put on ... there was Captain Tom, as he was then.

'As he progressed with his walk, he was more and more on the screens and so I just thought that for his achievements it would be really, really sad if, after five or 10 years, everyone had forgotten what he had actually done.'

He added: 'He became everyone's champion and he was our beacon of light, so to speak, through our darkest hours.

'I was in a fortunate position, being in the monument and sculpture business, and my sculptor, Andy Edwards, he was locked down as well.

'So we found some clay, we worked on the photographs that were on Captain Sir Tom's Facebook page and then we decided to make a bust.'

Mr McBride hopes the bust can be displayed at the headquarters of NHS Charities Together, the charity the centenarian raised money for.

Colonel Tom said it will be 'the most special of days' when the Queen knights him at Windsor Castle on Friday for raising more than £32million for the NHS. 

The fundraising hero will travel to the Berkshire royal residence with members of his family for the rare investiture with the monarch.

Colonel Tom, pictured with his grandson Benji, daughter Hannah and granddaughter Georgia, received a special nomination for knighthood from the Prime Minister

The 94-year-old Queen, pictured during a video call from Windsor Castle, where she has been staying since before lockdown for her safety, will carry out the official engagement in person

In a message on his official Twitter account, the fundraiser said: 'I could never have imagined this would happen to me.

'It is such a huge honour and I am very much looking forward to meeting Her Majesty The Queen. It is going to be the most special of days for me.' 

Royal investitures were put on hold during the pandemic and those scheduled to take place at Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh in June and July were postponed. 

But the 94-year-old Queen, who has been staying at Windsor since before lockdown for her safety, will carry out the official engagement in person - rare for the monarch during the pandemic - to honour Colonel Sir Tom.

The monarch will use the sword that belonged to her father, George VI, and will present Colonel Tom with the insignia of Knight Bachelor.

The insignia, which hangs on a red ribbon edged in gold and is usually placed around the recipient's neck, will be part of the ceremony, but the Palace is still looking at how best to abide by social distancing rules. 

The open-air ceremony will be staged in the castle's quadrangle, where a military ceremony was held for the Queen's official birthday in June, with no viewing positions for the public.

Such is the popularity of Colonel Sir Tom that members of the public are being asked not to attend Windsor town centre or gather in the hope of seeing any of the ceremony, which will not be visible from any external viewpoint.  

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: 'On occasion, the Queen invests individuals privately during audiences.

'Captain Sir Tom Moore's knighthood was, exceptionally, announced individually by the Prime Minister, outside of the usual announcements of the Queen's Birthday Honours and the New Year Honours. 

'Captain Sir Tom and his family were hopeful the investiture could take place in a timely fashion and we are pleased it has been possible on this occasion.' 

The numbers involved will be kept to a minimum, without a military band.

Afterwards, Colonel Sir Tom and his family will be served refreshments inside the Castle, but the Queen will only be attending the ceremony. Prince Philip, 99, who retired from public duties in 2017, will not be present.

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