A sculptor creating a bronze statue of Captain Sir Tom Moore is reaching the final stages of his creation as the UK prepares to celebrate what would have been the inspirational fundraiser’s 101st birthday.
Andrian Melka began work on a 2m (6ft 6in) clay statue of Sir Tom in February following the news of his death, and it is now almost ready to be cast in bronze and donated to Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
Mr Melka, of Bolton Percy in North Yorkshire, hopes the sculpture will provide inspiration for staff, patients and visitors and remind them that ‘one step in front of the other will get you somewhere’.
Sculptor Andrian Melka (left) puts finishing touches to 6ft tall statue of Captain Sir Tom Moore (right) as the UK prepares to celebrate what would have been his 101st birthday this weekend
The statue portrays the 100-year-old fundraiser giving the thumbs-up as he completed 100 laps of his garden in Bedfordshire ahead of his milestone birthday last year.
Sir Captain Tom Moore hoped to raise £1,000 for the NHS at the height of the pandemic, but ended up capturing the hearts of the nation and raised £39million.
The former soldier, who was knighted by the Queen in July last year, died on February 2 after catching Covid-19 at Bedford Hospital, where he had been treated for pneumonia.
The sculptor, whose work can be seen in the gardens of the royal residences of Sandringham and Highgrove, has used crowdfunding to cover the foundry costs involved in casting the statue in bronze.
He is preparing for the final stage of the process as the country prepares to take on the Captain Tom 100 challenge this weekend to celebrate what would have been the Second World War veteran’s 101st birthday.
Mr Melka, who moved to England from Albania in 1997, said: ‘Creating something this big out of clay was a huge challenge for me as I’m more used to sculpting statues in stone.
‘I was really inspired by Captain Tom, not only for raising so much money for the NHS but also in encouraging others to put one foot in front of the other and remain optimistic during challenging times.
Artist Andrian Melka, from North Yorkshire, will donate the work to Leeds Teaching Hospital trust. Pictured: Mr Melka working on the clay portrait of Captain Sir Tom Moore at his studio
Andrian Melka, who is crowdfunding to have the work cast in bronze, puts finishing touches to his two-metre high clay statue of Captain Sir Tom Moore at his home studio near York
‘Creating this statue, and raising enough money to cast it in bronze, was my personal challenge to honour a remarkable man.’
Mr Melka has been working with Leeds Hospitals Charity to identify a suitable home for the finished statue.
The artist opened his own studio near York in 2003 taking on a wide range of commissions in the UK and America.
His clients have included Lord Rothschild, HRH The Prince of Wales, Lord Conrad Black, Lord Halifax and Fred Landman.
If the crowdfunding target is reached, it has been agreed it will be installed in a newly refurbished courtyard garden at Leeds Chapel Allerton Hospital for patients undergoing lengthy and intensive rehabilitation for long-term neurological conditions or following a stroke or traumatic brain injury.
Mr Melka said he hopes it will inspire patients on their road to recovery.
Pictured, Children from Powell’s C of E Primary School in Cirencester in Gloucestershire who are backing the the ‘Captain Tom 100’ charity challenge which runs from April 30 to May 3
The seat on Sir Tom’s walking frame has been designed so that it faces forwards, allowing it to be used as a place for patients and staff to sit and rest.
Mr Melka’s fundraising page can be found here.
It comes as a charity challenge in Sir Tom’s memory is officially launched today.
Captain Tom 100 fundraising challenge encourages people to choose a challenge based around the number 100 to complete between April 30, which would have been Captain Tom Moore’s 101st birthday, and Bank Holiday Monday May 3.
The challenges will raise money for The Captain Tom Foundation or a charity of the person’s choice.
The Captain Tom 100 invites people to carry out a challenge, such as climbing the stairs 100 times or baking 100 cakes and the family says the event was created to be ‘as inclusive as possible’.
The family of Captain Sir Tom Moore, pictured with grandson Benji, daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore and granddaughter Georgia, announced a new fund-raising challenge for the public
The Captain Tom 100 initiative was discussed with him before his death and the seaside fan had talked of taking part by building 100 sandcastles or jumping 100 waves.
His daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore said: ‘This is to try to ensure that the joy and hope he gave us lives on by challenging yourself to do anything around the number 100.
‘It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you are. I hope it will go out globally, to army bases and naval ships and schools. Can you imagine the crazy things that will happen?
‘Look what he did. The power of the small can be morphed into something phenomenal.
‘We thought he’d raise £1,000 and he raised £38 million. We want people to harness that.’
For details of the fundraising challenge, see www.captaintom100.com.
How Captain Sir Tom’s heroic actions boosted Britain amid lockdown
Sir Captain Tom Moore hoped to raise £1,000 for the NHS, but ended up capturing the hearts of the nation.
Here’s how 100 laps around his garden became a knighthood…
April 2020 The army veteran begins fundraising in the hope of raising £1,000 for the NHS amid the coronavirus pandemic. He wants to walk 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday on April 30.
April 14 More than £2million is donated.
April 15 The total rises to £7million as more than 340,000 people show their support.
April 16 He completes his 100 laps – meaning he walked an average of six laps a day – and reveals he’s going to keep going to raise as much as possible. Both the Prime Minister and the Royal Family congratulate him.
April 24 Sir Captain Tom is the oldest person ever to reach Number One in the Top 40 Charts with his cover of You’ll Never Walk Alone. He performs it alongside singer Michael Ball and The NHS Voices of Care Choir.
April 30 The fundraising page hits £32million on his 100th birthday. He is made an honorary colonel and enjoys a military flypast.
July 17 The Queen awards him a knighthood in a special engagement.
September He writes bestselling autobiography Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day and signs a deal to film a biopic of his life.
October 5 – Captain Tom starts a podcast to tackle isolation among Britain’s elderly.
December He ticks a holiday to Barbados off his bucket list.
January 31, 2021 He is admitted to hospital amid an intense battle with pneumonia, his family reveal.
February 2, 2021 Sir Captain Tom’s death is announced days after he tests positive for coronavirus.