Barbados’ tourism minister is offering Captain Tom Moore a holiday to the island as a mark of recognition and respect for his NHS fundraising, as well as 20 trips for healthcare workers.
The war veteran, who has raised almost £30 million so far by walking laps of his garden in Bedfordshire, turns 100 on Thursday and among his other “gifts” will be an RAF fly-by, also timed to coincide with the weekly 8pm Clap for Carers.
All mail to Captain Tom is already being stamped with a special postmark in his honour; cards received are now said to number more than 125,000 and are being displayed in the hall of his grandson Benjie Ingram-Moore’s school.
“There is an inextricable link between the UK and Barbados; we are so close culturally, and last year, we were humbled to have received our highest ever number of UK visitors,” Barbados’ minister of tourism and international Transport Kerrie D. Symmonds told TTG.
“We have been so moved by Captain Tom’s excellent efforts and attempts to raise consciousness around the NHS, so with that in mind, we would like to offer him three tickets to the island so that he may travel here whenever it is safe to do so, and I would like to welcome him here personally.”
Symmonds recommended one of the first things Captain Tom and his family might like to do would be to have a “rum punch” and enjoy some “world-famous culinary experiences”.
The minister said he would also like to offer 20 UK NHS workers a trip to the island for two.
“We invite them to come to the island with a partner, or a plus one, and to be our guest,” he said. “Captain Tom’s initiative has highlighted the value of all healthcare workers, something we are also aware of here on the island, where we have very high standards of healthcare too.”
Captain Tom might feel especially at home on the island, as Barbados has the second highest number of centenarians per capita in the world, with Barbadians regularly celebrating and honouring those who reach the significant milestone on a national scale.
“We’d like to wish Captain Tom a very happy birthday for Thursday,” Symmonds added.
NHS staff can be nominated by their friends and family through BarbadosCares.com, and will be given the opportunity to travel to Barbados with a guest. All entries will be judged by a panel to identify the 20 most inspirational stories.
Cheryl Carter, UK director of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, said more details of the holidays for NHS staff and Captain Tom’s offer of a trip would be revealed in coming weeks.
In 2019, 234,658 UK travellers visited Barbados, making it the island’s number one market. These numbers marked an all-time high for the UK, up by 6.3% on 2018.