The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

Discussion Group

Debate 9A Why do you think so many people sent Captain Tom – now Colonel Tom - donations of millions of pounds and thousands of birthday cards, and what can we learn from this extraordinary sequence of events?

Please let me have your answers by Friday.

I put your responses in my website as soon as possible after they are received, so you can see what other people are saying.


1. People can be very generous and perhaps one of the reasons he received so many birthday cards was because it was his 100th.

2. Everyone loves a British ‘war’ hero! Among other places, Captain Tom saw active service and experienced the horrors of war in Burma during World War 2, so his survival to the age of 100 is to be respected and applauded.

Coincidentally, he saw an opportunity to honour and reward our NHS workers, who now find themselves in a very different war.

People donated money and sent cards, not only to support the NHS, but to honour a vulnerable war veteran who did his best for his country again, despite his age and disabilities.

We should learn from these events, that behind closed doors there are many thousands more World War 2 veterans, who we have to thank, for our very existence.

3. Why?
- Tom was an inspiration
- People were looking for good news in bleak times
- There was a herd instinct to join in and
- An emotional outpouring like the death of Diana
- Media/internet got hold of the story
The story had all the ingredients
- World War II veteran
- His 100th Birthday
- Money to NHS (good cause)
- The story and coverage built up (lap a day)
- Made easy
- Professionally handled by Just Giving
Birthday Cards
- Address made available
- Even blank cards were provided online
- Children were able to join in - at a time when they were restricted by the lockdown

What can we learn?

- British people have affection for our armed services, especially our old soldiers, and the NHS
- we can be inspired
- there are people who will follow/jump on the bandwagon
- people will put their hands in their pockets for a good cause
- just how powerful the media are in their coverage
- when times are tough, people look for a silver lining
- just how little good news there is /p>

4. Colonel Tom made people feel good and is a great example to everyone.

He just caught the mood and made everyone cheerful.

5-6. Pure unselfishness.
Renews faith in humanity,
huge respect and
need to be kinder to each other.

7. Good news amongst all the bad.

Chance to show respect for a veteran.

However, controversially, I would like to add that it has spilt into a bit of over sentimentality.

I say that, without taking anything away from what he has done, but it just seemed to go over the top.

8. I don’t think that Capt. Tom as an individual had much to do with raising funds , he is a focal point,

which coincided with the feeling that many people had to donate money to the NHS.


It can be described as an extraordinary time in our History.

9. As a result of the coronavirus, a lot of people are spending less and have money to spare for such a good cause.

10. People donated money because they admired his efforts and,

while most people usually feel helpless to influence events, this was something where they could see the result of their donation and feel they were making a difference.

He received so many birthday cards because of:

(1) what he had achieved
(2) it was his 100th
(3) many came from schoolchildren and possibly their parents asked them to keep them occupied and relieve their boredom.

11. “Col Tom is a true reliable Brit, setting an example to the present generation.

His birthday has been honoured for his heroics, both military and British grit, for which we all thank him.

Recognising his wonderful character he received thousands of cards celebrating his wonderful day - organised by a thoughtful group.

All the card shops were open but not here in New Milton.

12. Just a remarkable goal and achievement by a true gentleman and war veteran. A shining example of positivity and endurance, which humbles us all.

13. People sent donations to Captain Tom's walk for the NHS because he made such a lovely change to all the bad news.

Such a gentle , polite old man, always with something good to say, he just appealed to viewers.

As the money grew so did the interest and good news in a dark world is wonderful.

Review of Week

13 responses. Wonderful

Great deal of admiration for Captain Tom expressed. So inspirational and positive. Example to us all.

Personally thought that some of the attention he got was a bit embarrassing.

Glad that he clearly enjoyed himself as did all the chilren with their cards.

Loads of money for NHS charities

Colin Bower
7 May 2020

Link to Debates Index:

Debates Index

Made with CityDesk