National hero Captain Tom Moore celebrates his 100th birthday today and thanks Hexham Courant readers for helping him raise almost £30 million for the NHS.

The old soldier – whose incredible fund raising efforts during the coronavirus pandemic have made him a national treasure - took time out to deliver a personal message to readers who have donated to his cause.

As he prepared to read goodwill messages in some of the 125,000 birthday cards sent by well-wishers from across the globe, Captain Tom told our readers: “I am so deeply and sincerely grateful to the tremendous British Public and especially the readers of the paper for their help. You have shown me so much love.

“When we started off with this exercise, we didn’t anticipate we’d get anything near that sort of money. It’s really amazing.”

Captain Tom, who was born in Keighley and now lives in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, hoped to raise a few thousand pounds for the NHS by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday.

His efforts proved an inspiration to people coming to terms with the coronavirus pandemic and donations poured in from all over the world.

With the total standing at almost £30m last night, the former Army officer, who served in Burma during the Second World War, holds the record for the largest sum ever raised in by an individual charity walk.

He also holds a second world record as the oldest person to have a number-one single in the UK charts after recording ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ with singer Michael Ball.

And he isn’t finished yet.

Looking forward, Captain Tom told us: “I’d like to say a big thank you to all the readers who have sent me birthday congratulations.

“The tremendous British Public have shown me so much love. You have repurposed and re-energised me, and for that I will be forever grateful.”

But not as grateful as the millions of people who have taken hope and inspiration from your incredible achievement Captain Tom.

Many happy returns.