Give a smile to brighten someone’s day and the smile you get back will brighten up yours

CAPTAIN Sir Tom Moore became a national hero this year, capturing our hearts by walking 100 sponsored laps around his garden ahead of his 100th birthday.

He raised a record-breaking £38.9million, all of which was donated to the NHS Charities Covid-19 appeal. 

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But Captain Tom was determined not to stop there. Humbled by the outpouring of generosity from people across the globe, in September the former soldier and his family launched a foundation and began a new fundraising drive to support causes close to Captain Tom’s heart.

His daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, said: “We realised we had been given the most incredible gift and with that came a responsibility to create a legacy so that my father’s message of hope and positivity could live on.” 

One priority Captain Tom has focused on is combating loneliness. It is an issue which The Sun has tackled this winter, too, with our Christmas Together campaign, asking people to sign up to volunteer to help those who might be vulnerable or isolated.

Here, Captain Tom explains why we all need to be on alert and think about how we can help those who might be feeling alone during the difficult winter months still to come.

The Sun’s Christmas Together campaign

THIS Christmas we are teaming up with the Together Campaign, a coalition of community groups and organisations, and Royal Voluntary Service to combat loneliness.

And we want to recruit an army of volunteers to support those feeling cut off, anxious and isolated, this Christmas.

Could YOU reach out to someone who might be struggling and alone?    

It might be someone you know in your own life or community who needs support.

Or we can connect you with someone in need through the NHS Volunteer responder programme run by the NHS, Royal Voluntary Service and the GoodSAM app. 

Could you give up half an hour to make a call and chat with someone feeling  isolated? Or could you volunteer to deliver essential shopping or festive treats?

Go to nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk/christmastogether to sign up as a volunteer. 

You will then receive an email taking you through the sign up process and be asked to download the responder app which will match you to those in need in your area.

Don’t worry if you don’t get a job straight away, because jobs are matched according to the need local to you.  Being ready to help is what really matters.


FROM my own personal experience, I am bitterly aware that there are many lonely people out there. 

My wife Pamela spent her last few years in a care home where I visited her every day, and I was always conscious of the residents who had no one to visit them.

Right now there are anxious people confined to their homes by fear, disability or because they are shielding from the virus. There are also those ­suffering from depression or mental-health problems. Our current situation will exasperate all these issues so we must all do what we can to help.

And it is not just the people suffering we need to reach out to — it’s the people caring for them too.

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I suffered terrible loneliness when my wife Pamela went into care[/caption]

I’ve seen first-hand how a little kindness and compassion can make all the difference to people of all walks of life, and on different stages of their journey. The squeeze of a hand, a wave or even just a smile can make the world of difference to someone’s day. And that’s free for everyone to give.

So many people suffer from loneliness, one way or another, and it is not determined by age, gender, social status or nationality. 

Various members of my ­family experienced loneliness and their experiences have stayed with me.

My father, Wilfred, had a serious hearing disability and, although he ran a ­successful business, he suffered isolation — unable to hear the radio and join many of our conversations. 

Then there was my sister Freda. She lived alone for many years, having looked after our parents until they died, and only admitted her loneliness much later in life. 

I suffered terrible loneliness when Pamela went into care.

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If I have learned one thing from this year it’s that everyone can make a difference[/caption]

While she was there for a number of years, she was ­suffering from dementia — so in a way you lose your loved one before you lose them. It was a terribly lonely time for both she and I. I’ll never forget one day, as I arrived with a bunch of her favourite freesias, she looked up at me, smiled and said: “If you didn’t come every day, Tom, I would be so lonely.” 

That really hit me hard, as I knew what it felt like to be on my own, but I could only imagine how much worse it must be in a care home.

FORCED ISOLATION

I was painfully aware that there were many other old people there who had nobody to visit them at all — not a soul, year after year. That is a terrible situation.

The Covid-19 pandemic has isolated people from all walks of life and of all ages.

It’s the things we take for granted, like young people ­playing with their friends and teenagers enjoying new relationships or just starting out at university. All these everyday things have been affected. 

The single, divorced and widowed, the reclusive and elderly, all trapped and helpless to one degree or another. I worry about the impact this kind of forced isolation may have on mental health and wellbeing. It’s another reason it is so ­important to raise awareness of ­loneliness and get help for those in need.

If I have learned one thing from this year it’s that it’s never too late to start something new, and that everyone can make a difference.

While it is heartening to think that what my family and I did raised the spirits of so many, as well as so much money for such a good cause, what really fills me with hope is that I’ve heard of so many other individuals, young and old alike, who have also done incredible things this year. 

It only goes to show that, if we unite, we can make such a difference. There is plenty you can do, it doesn’t take much.

Even to give someone a little smile can brighten a day — and the smile you get back will brighten yours. 

  • The Captain Tom Foundation has been set up to continue to inspire people and ensure Tom’s message of hope becomes an enduring legacy. You can donate to help combat loneliness at ­captaintom.org

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