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Captain Tom was a Covid hero – we can’t let a grubby row taint his legacy

Captain Tom Moore’s daughter’s ‘spa and pool complex’ has been marked for demolition. The obvious question is: what would the late war hero make of it all?

Sean O'Grady
Wednesday 05 July 2023 13:16 BST
Captain Tom's family open memorial walkway

Prima facie, as the fashionable phrase goes, it does read rather like the plot of one of those gripping ITV drama documentaries.

A national Covid hero, Captain Tom Moore, aged 99, decides to raise a bit of cash for the NHS by doing a sponsored walk around his garden with his walking aid, at a time when we were barely allowed out.

A war veteran, his little lockdown project soon captivated the nation, went viral (in a good way), and he collected almost £40m and the Queen made him a knight. He was a nice, even inspirational old boy, who seemed to embody the Best of Britain and all that. “Tomorrow will be a good day,” he told us, and the motto served as the title for a volume of works.

The Captain Tom story had everything: service in the Second World War (serving in Burma, a tough campaign), plus a personal mark of approval by Elizabeth II – and, of course, also becoming beatified as a saint in the informal national religion: the NHS. He, somehow, avoided getting politicised and kept schtum about Brexit. By the time he passed in 2021, he was virtually a god. What could go wrong?

The answer would appear to be his daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, and her husband. Tomorrow isn’t turning out to be such a good day for them.

The charitable foundation she founded which bears her father’s name is being investigated by the Charity Commission – and a spa annexe that they built for themselves that was supposed to be something to do with the charitable foundation is now marked for demolition.

It’s a complicated tale, as planning matters tend to be, and a sorry one. The Ingram-Moores, arguably exploiting Sir Tom’s name, requested planning permission from Central Bedfordshire Council for a “Captain Tom Foundation Building”, which was “for use by occupiers... and Captain Tom Foundation”.

Looking kindly on the scheme, which was to be next door to a listed building, they granted permission for the single-storey structure to be built on the tennis courts. at the Grade II-listed home. However, in February 2022, the family submitted revised plans for the already partly constructed building, at which point it was named the “Captain Tom Building”. The plans included a spa pool, toilets and a kitchen, which sounds quite domestic to be honest, and the Design & Access and Heritage Statement said it was “for private use”.

In November 2022 last year, Central Bedfordshire Council refused the retrospective planning permission for the revised plans. Hence the order for it to be torn down. There’s an appeal pending.

The obvious question is: what would Captain Tom make of it all? It was asked by Hannah Ingram-Moore quite a lot after her father was making his unexpected journey from old soldier to celebrity and ascending to heaven.

Indeed, so ubiquitous was Hannah telling us what Dad would have thought, that it caught the attention of the satirists at Viz. They were especially taken by her psychic reading of Captain Tom’s ghostly mind on such improbable tributes as a memorial train named after him.

Hannah Moore-Ingram reportedly told the Swindon Advertiser as “he would have loved the idea of a Captain Tom Centennial Train” which, the paper reported, would probably be embarking on a 100-stop journey to raise money for the Foundation.

According to the wags at Viz, however, Captain Tom Moore would tell any medium who cared to listen to his opinions that: “I think it is more likely I would have found such news surreal and confusing, and wondered what kind of relevance it had to anything I had ever said or done.” Quite right, ethereal Captain Tom.

There was a lot of that kind of thing around, but if Hannah Ingram-Moore ever speaks publicly about her recent tribulations, she’d be well-advised not to say something like her father “would be tickled” at the spectacle of her getting into trouble with the Charity Commission and Central Bedfordshire Council and the subject of mass ridicule in the national media.

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