A Kettering photographer who had the privilege to meet and photograph Captain Sir Tom Moore has paid tribute to the fundraiser who died yesterday aged 100.
The Army veteran won the nation's hearts by walking 100 laps of his garden and raising an incredible £32 million for NHS Charities Together.
Julietta Arden-Taylor, of Headshots and Branding by JAT, was asked to cover the launches of the Captain Sir Tom Moore Foundation and his book, at his family home in Marston Moretaine in Bedfordshire last year.
Paying tribute to the 100-year old, Julietta said: "I was so sad yesterday when I heard the news, he was a national treasure.
"I met him at the launch of his book and his foundation. He certainly had a twinkle in his eye and was very interested in everyone.
"It was quite a cold day and he was wrapped in blankets. We had to keep our distance and, as I was taking photos, he would look over and give me a smile that felt like a wink.
"He was full of beans and life and just so charming when he talked to you - he was definitely very charming."
Capt Tom's heroic fundraising walk culminated on April 30, his 100th birthday and the new centenarian celebrated with a number one hit.
In April, Kettering nurse Estelle Ambler, part of the NHS workers' Voices of Care Choir joined Captain Tom on his chart-topping cover version of You'll Never Walk Alone hitting the number one spot on the Official UK Singles Chart.
Community children's nurse Estelle, a member of the care, assessment and treatment of children at home team (CATCH) based at Kettering's St Mary's Hospital covering Kettering, Wellingborough, Rothwell, and Rushden, sang alongside other NHS workers accompanying Captain Tom and Michael Ball.
She said the experience was quite emotional: "I did have a tear or two along with an overwhelming sense of pride for being part of it.
"I became aware of a request for NHS workers to form the Voices of Care Choir for a charity song involving Michael Ball and felt it was an opportunity to take part and give something back to all our NHS colleagues who are working so hard during the current pandemic.
"Captain Tom has inspired the nation to play a part in helping the efforts to fight the current pandemic. The amount of money he has raised for the NHS is phenomenal."
The same week, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) honoured the former soldier by naming their water rescue boat 'Captain Tom' in recognition of his work.
A spokesman for NFRS said: "We are deeply saddened by the passing of Captain Sir Tom Moore.
"Last year we named one of our powerboats ‘Captain Tom’ in honour of the celebrated NHS fundraiser.
"The name was suggested as part of a Facebook challenge in which members of the public were asked to think of a name for the boat, used by NFRS in water rescues.
"The winning name was suggested by Facebook follower Louiza Kew, who said the idea came while watching Captain Tom’s news updates with her two-year-old son.
"The Watch thought it was a fitting tribute to Captain Tom Moore’s heroic efforts to raise money for the NHS.
"Our thoughts are with his family and friends and he will be remembered by us here at Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue."
To mark the veteran's 100th birthday, Desborough portrait artist Charlie Such painted Captain Tom Moore, depicting him as a superhero - the image went viral and became a world-wide smash.The 21-year-old artist said: "When I heard about Tom raising so much money it was just incredible. I wanted to do what I could to show my respect and created this painting with him as a superhero. He is nothing short of a legend."
In June 2020, Kettering General Hospital opened a 18-bed temporary ward block and named it The Captain Thomas Moore Ward in the fundraiser's honour.
The ward is a medical step-down ward, supported by a team of 40 staff, for patients due to be discharged from hospital.
Among his many honours Captain Tom was knighted by the Queen in July in a special ceremony at Windsor Castle.
Sir Capt Tom Moore died on February 2, 2021 in Bedford Hospital. He is survived by his daughters Hannah and Lucy and four grandchildren.