Colonel Tom has been awarded a prestigious Blue Peter Gold badge, the show’s highest accolade, in recognition of the war veteran’s remarkable NHS fundraising and for being ‘a beacon of hope’ during difficult times.
As the nation prepares to commemorate VE day, viewers will see the moment the World War Two war veteran receives the badge in a film to be shown on Blue Peter tomorrow (Thursday, 7 May) at 5.30pm on CBBC.
Only a handful of Gold badges are presented each year. They go to outstanding individuals who have achieved something extraordinary in their field, who are considered to be role models, and who encourage and motivate children across many generations.
Colonel Tom was filmed just before his birthday as he extended his challenge to 200 laps, after completing the first 100 laps 14 days ahead of schedule. He has since raised over £30 million for NHS Charities Together. Presenter Lindsey Russell enlisted the help of Tom’s grandchildren, Benji and Georgia, in order to surprise him with the Gold badge and to comply with social distancing measures.
Announcing that he had received the coveted award Lindsey told him: “We at Blue Peter think it is brilliant what you have achieved and what you have done over the past couple of weeks, the money and attention you have raised. As Benji so rightly put it, during this time of darkness you are such a beacon of light… on Blue Peter our highest accolade is the Gold Blue Peter badge and it is something that the Queen, amongst a few others have got, so on behalf of Blue Peter and our wonderful audience we would like to award you with our highest accolade, which is our Gold Blue Peter badge.”
Tom was thrilled and recalled his favourite classic Blue Peter moment as he accepted the badge from his grandchildren. “That’s absolutely amazing, thank you very much. I am very proud to receive it because I have always been a great follower of Blue Peter – I remember the elephant which is quite a few years ago now! Thank you very much indeed, I really am delighted to have this.”
With VE day around the corner, Lindsey also asks Tom about his memories of the end of WW2. He tells her: “Everybody was going round arm in arm. London was absolutely packed with people dancing about, absolutely thrilled with the fact that at last we had got through the war in Europe and it was a great day.”
She also asks him what his comrades would say if they could see him doing the laps around his garden and Tom recalls the strength of their friendship, but also sadness at now being the only one remaining.
He said: “I think they would say ‘well done’. The comradeship throughout the war was great and continued afterwards, until we got to the 65th year of the reunion and I was the only one left.”
Asked about walking another 100 laps Tom quips: “I’m trying to do another 100 but whilst I’m talking to you, I’m not walking!”
In the film, Tom’s grandchildren also talk about how proud they are of him, how he has inspired others, and how the overwhelming public support has made them cry over the last few weeks, before Lindsey joins him for a socially distanced lap of his garden.
Colonel Tom joins a select group of people to have received a Gold Blue Peter badge, which includes The Queen, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Sir David Attenborough, Sir Paul McCartney, JK Rowling, Steven Spielberg, Mary Berry, David Beckham, Ed Sheeran, Madonna and Raheem Stirling.
Viewers can see Colonel Tom receiving his Gold Blue Peter badge on Blue Peter, Thursday 7 May on CBBC at 5.30pm and on BBC iPlayer.