London (AFP) – A World War II veteran who has raised millions of pounds for charity by walking around his garden on Friday became the oldest man to top the UK music charts — just days from his 100th birthday.
Captain Tom Moore had already become a global phenomenon for raising more than £28 million ($35 million, 32 million euros) for staff of the state-run National Health Service (NHS) battling the coronavirus outbreak.
The former soldier, who served in India and turns 100 on April 30, captured hearts with his sponsored walk of 100 laps around his 25-metre (82-foot) garden in Bedfordshire, southern England, with the help of his walking frame.
But he is now set to raise more through sales of his rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” which went in at number one in the UK singles chart after being released last week.
The song — the anthem of Liverpool Football Club and made popular by Gerry and the Pacemakers in 1963 — was recorded with singer Michael Ball and the NHS Voices of Care Choir.
The Official Charts Company said it had combined sales of 82,000, ahead of The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” on 69,000. The Canadian star urged fans to support Moore in a tweet earlier this week.
Proceeds from Moore’s single go to NHS Charities Together.
Michael Ball said: “This is the most extraordinary thing, one of the most proudest moments of my career, but it’s not about me, it’s about Captain Tom.
“Thank you for giving him a Number 1 on his 100th birthday. You are the best, God bless ya.”
The chief executive of the Official Charts Company, Martin Talbot, called Moore “a hero to us all” and said the achievement “should lift everybody’s spirits in these extraordinary times”.
“We are absolutely delighted to see them at the pinnacle and setting new landmarks as they go — including a record as the oldest Number 1 Singles artist of all time,” he added.
The organisation said the previous oldest number one artist was Tom Jones, who secured the top spot at 68 years and nine months with the 2009 charity single “(Barry) Islands in the Stream”.
Other older stars include Louis Armstrong, who scored a UK number one in 1968 with “What a Wonderful World” when he was aged 66 and 10 months.
Moore was aged 32 six months when Al Martino topped the first official singles chart with “Here in my Heart” in November 1952.
The achievement is also the fourth time “You’ll Never Walk Alone” has gone to number one, the company added.
Guinness World Records said separately Moore had broken the record for the oldest person to secure a UK number one — at 99 years 359 days.
His fundraising efforts also broke the record for the most money raised by a charity walk.
That record was previously held by cancer survivor Terry Fox, whose walk across Canada in 1980 raised Can$ 14.7 million — the equivalent of £5.4 million at the time and £27,201,900 now.