'Absolute legend': 99-year-old British war veteran raises $39 million by walking for health service

A 99-year-old war veteran walking around his garden has raised at least 20 million pounds for Britain's health service in the coronavirus crisis.

Captain Tom Moore is turning 100 after walking 100 laps of his garden to raise money for frontline health workers.

Captain Tom Moore walking laps of his garden to raise money for frontline health workers. Source: AAP

A 99-year-old British war veteran who has raised more than 20 million pounds ($A39 million) for the health service by walking laps of his garden has been praised by Queen Elizabeth's grandson as an "absolute legend".

Retired army captain Tom Moore became a symbol of British endurance in the face of adversity after completing 100 laps of his garden in a fundraising effort for the health service.

Moore, who has used a walking frame with wheels since breaking his hip, had aimed to raise 1000 pounds by completing his challenge before his 100th birthday on April 30.

99-year-old British veteran Captain Tom Moore (2-L) with grandson Benji (L), daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore (2-R) and granddaughter Georgia (R).
Source: AAP

But his endeavour - and enduring optimism - struck a chord with people across the United Kingdom and the wider world, bringing a ray of hope amid the doom of the coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 150,000 people worldwide.

Prince William, the queen's grandson, said Moore was an "absolute legend".

"What I love also is he's a 99-year war vet, he's been around a long time, knows everything and it's wonderful that everyone has been inspired by his story and his determination," William said in an interview broadcast on Friday.

Moore said that the current doom would clear and that one day "the sun will shine on you again and the clouds will go away".

A undated handout photo made available by Maytrix Group shows British Army Captain Tom Moore in uniform.
Source: EPA

Such is his renown, that some have called for Moore to be knighted by Queen Elizabeth - a ritual recognition that dates back thousands of years through England's medieval past.

"It makes me laugh," Moore said on Thursday when asked about being recognised formally, quipping a reference to the Tudor statesman Sir Thomas More.

"Sir Thomas Moore sounds quite good," he chuckled.

British honours, such as knighthoods, are awarded by the Queen, usually on the recommendation of a committee comprising government officials and citizens.

British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said "everybody is supportive of the idea" of Moore being recognised.

"I wouldn't want to preempt Her Majesty's honours list but it is quite clear that this gentleman has just been almost the salvation of the nation in these difficult times," he said.

"I think everybody is supportive of the idea of him being recognised."

Moore said the walk was inspired by the care he received from Britain's state-run National Health Service when he broke his hip and when he was treated for cancer.

Moore said on Thursday his supporters had donated an "absolutely fantastic sum of money".

"It's unbelievable that people would be so kind to give that sort of money to the National Health Service," he said.

Published 18 April 2020 at 6:44am, updated 18 April 2020 at 7:45am