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‘The world is your oyster’: Sir Tom’s inspirational message to graduating teen soldiers

Written by on 10 September 2020

Captain Sir Tom Moore told junior soldiers the world is their oyster as he carried out his first duty as honorary colonel at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate.

The 100-year-old Second World War veteran took the salute at the graduation of almost 300 teenagers.

It was the first graduation since February to allow two family members to attend.

Sir Tom was made honorary colonel of the college earlier this year after he walked 100 laps of his garden to raise almost GBP33m for the NHS.

Sir Tom inspected the junior soldiers at their graduation parade

The veteran, who took part in the Battle of Ramree Island as part of the Burma campaign during the war, told the soldiers they were “starting a future of absolutely unlimited scope”.

“The world is an oyster and yours to go and open,” he told the soldiers – who were graduating after 18 weeks of training.

A graduation parade at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, where Captain Sir Tom Moore, in the role of Chief Inspecting Officer, inspected the junior soldiers.
Almost 300 soldiers were graduating after an 18-week course

Sir Tom told reporters: “For the rest of their lives they’ll find that they are all comrades together.

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“That will go on and on, just as it has for me. It’s a long time since I was in the forces but I have still got comrades wherever I go. It really is a magnificent unit to be in.”

He said he didn’t have a passing-out parade when he first trained, and was instead “thrown into it” and left to “get on with it”.

His campaign raised over GBP32 million for the NHS during the pandemic.

Sir Tom knighted by the Queen

The veteran also presented several awards and watched a flypast by two Apache helicopters.

Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Simon Farebrother said it was an “absolute priority” to have Sir Tom take the salute and that the soldiers were thrilled.

“You could see the parents and guardians as well – everyone wants to get a photo of him,” he said.

“He’s a proper celebrity and he’s a brilliant spokesman for the college as well.”

Lt Col Farebrother said the college had been very careful to make the parade COVID-19 secure, as “any virus coming in or out is unacceptable” while 350 teenagers remained in training at the base.

Sir Tom’s fundraising efforts made headlines all over the world when the pandemic began and his original goal to get GBP1,000 for the NHS ended up in the tens of millions.

He was knighted by the Queen in an open-air ceremony at Windsor Castle in July.