Captain Tom Moore, who raised more than £29m for the NHS by walking laps of his garden, has been made an honorary colonel on his 100th birthday.
The war veteran will mark the occasion with thousands of birthday cards, including one from the Queen.
He said it was “extraordinary” to be turning 100, especially with “this many well-wishers”.
Head of the Army General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith called Capt Tom “an inspirational role model”.
Capt Tom is due to spend the majority of the day self-isolating with his daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore and her family at his home in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire.
He said he would also speak to other family members via the internet.
As well as receiving a personalised card from the Queen, Capt Tom will be made an honorary England cricketer by former captain Michael Vaughan.
Capt Tom will be informed of his promotion to honorary colonel in a letter presented by Lt Col Thomas Miller, commanding officer of the 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, at his home.
The Army said Chief of the General Staff, Sir Mark, who made the appointment, said Capt Tom’s “mature wisdom, no-nonsense attitude and humour in adversity make him an inspirational role model to generations young and old”.
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The centenarian, who will now be entitled to use the rank of colonel, was also presented with a replacement Second World War Defence Medal ahead of next week’s VE Day celebrations.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said he was delighted with the move, calling Capt Tom “simply inspirational”.
“He not only embodies the spirit of our incredible veteran community, but the resolve of this nation,” he added.
The life of Capt Tom
- Born in Keighley, in what was then the West Riding of Yorkshire, on 30 April 1920
- He attended the town’s grammar school before completing an apprenticeship in civil engineering
- Capt Tom joined the army at the beginning of World War Two, serving in India and Myanmar, then known as Burma
- After the war he became an instructor at the Armoured Fighting Vehicle School in Bovington, Dorset
- He lived in Kent before moving to Bedfordshire to be with his youngest daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore and her family in 2007
- In 2018, he received treatment for skin cancer of the head, and a broken hip after a fall
- In April, he was inspired to help the health service by completing 100 laps of the patio before his 100th birthday
On Tuesday, transport secretary Grant Shapps announced Capt Tom’s birthday would be marked with an RAF flypast.
The Ministry of Defence said it would “celebrate Captain Tom’s birthday and mark his amazing fundraising achievement”.
The Department for Transport had blocked an earlier plan for a flypast of his home organised by a Spitfire restoration firm, as it was deemed “non-essential”.
Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar had organised a flypast involving a Mark IX Spitfire, but was denied permission to complete the flight.
Instead, its aircraft will fly on a circuit around Biggin Hill Airfield, near Croydon, during the evening to coincide with the weekly Clap for Carers event.
Capt Tom will also celebrate his birthday as a chart-topper.
His cover of You’ll Never Walk Alone took the top spot last week, making him the oldest person ever to score a number one single in the UK.
His partner on the song, Michael Ball, will sing happy birthday to him in the morning.
Volunteers had to be called in to open tens of thousands of cards sent to Capt Tom, who served in India and Burma (now Myanmar) during World War Two.
An estimated 140,000 cards have been received and are on show at Bedford School, where his grandson, Benjie Ingram-Moore, is a pupil.
Many of the envelopes on the cards will be stamped with a special Royal Mail postmark.
All stamped post up until Friday was being marked with: “Happy 100th Birthday Captain Thomas Moore NHS fundraising hero 30th April 2020.”
The cards even travelled through a dedicated collection box at the South Midlands Mail Centre.
Centre manager Stephen James said: “None of the team have ever known one person receive so much mail.”
The Royal Mail is also set to unveil a special postbox in Capt Tom’s honour.
Painted “NHS blue” and featuring a golden balloon and birthday greeting, it will be located in Bedford Road, close to where he lives.
Capt Tom has also been honoured by having two trains named after him.
The Great Western Railway intercity express train 800025 goes into service on Thursday.
Matthew Golton, from the company, said: “With his indomitable spirit what Captain Tom has achieved is truly inspirational.”
Elsewhere, GB Railfreight said a 129-tonne, Class 66 freight locomotive would be named Captain Tom Moore, with the added inscription “A true British inspiration”.
Capt Tom’s fundraising feats have inspired a host of artists to honour him with their own creative tributes, including garage murals, patchwork collages, knitted dolls and balloon figurines.
The BBC’s Make A Difference project has also been encouraging people to take photographs of themselves saluting the war veteran.
These will be combined to make a mosaic to be presented to him.
Perhaps the best present though will be the knowledge the huge amount of money he raised will be going to NHS Charities Together.
Capt Tom, who was recently treated for a broken hip and skin cancer, initially aimed to rise £1,000 and said he set about raising the money “for the sake of the nurses and the NHS we have, because they are doing such a magnificent job”.