A Skelton stalwart is stepping up for his 101st birthday today by walking 100 paces to raise money for an Eden charity.
William Howe, known as Bill, has picked Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland as his charity of choice due to the care its team gave to his late wife Marjorie.
Having hoped to raise £100, Bill has already smashed his target and raised more than £600.
He said: “It’s very special, of course. I’m not 101 every day. It’s just nice to be able to thank all who have helped me over the years.”
This feat for the centenarian is part of the Captain Tom 100, which will see thousands of people nationwide raising money over the weekend by completing a range of challenges based on the number 100.
Yesterday would have been would have been Captain Sir Tom Moore’s 101st birthday — one day earlier than Bill’s — and is a year since he ignited the nation’s support by raising almost £39 million for the NHS during the COVID crisis by walking 100 lengths of his garden.
Bill joked: “I won’t do quite as much as he did but he was a year younger than me.”
His daughter Pauline Piper said: “It was a huge achievement on Captain Tom’s part and just when the country needed something to celebrate in those dark times. Dad and I watched him together on the TV and were very impressed.
“When Dad decided to do the challenge there was no doubt in his mind the charity that he’d do it for. The care provided by Hospice at Home for my mother at the end of her life and to us as a family was second to none. I’m enormously proud of him.”
As for the challenge, Bill has very limited mobility and will use a wheeled walking aid called a rollator, similar to the one Captain Tom used for his feat. Pauline was “quietly confident” that he would tackle the difficult task.
She added: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a catastrophic effect on charities, with the cancellation of thousands of events and the loss of billions in income.
At a time when vulnerable members of society need them most, charities have had to cut services, furlough staff and some have even shut down.”
Established in 1997, Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland provides high quality palliative care and support for patients, family members and carers affected by life-limiting illness. This is done in the hospice and in patients’ homes.
Sam Davis, a fundraiser for the charity said: “Hospice at Home is so very lucky to have the support of local people like Bill, the challenge that Bill is undertaking for the Captain Tom 100 is truly amazing.
“It really is local people supporting our community in the most fantastic way, Hospice at Home would like to wish Bill the very best of luck.”
Born on May 1 1921 in Washington, County Durham, Bill worked for British Engines, in Newcastle, before retiring to Cumbria. One of his former apprentices at the firm even donated a large amount to the cause after seeing Bill’s challenge.
Bill is no stranger to big celebrations as last year the whole Skelton community came out to wave at him and wish him well as he drove through the village for his 100th birthday. The union flag was even hoisted above Toppin Memorial Hall in honour of him.
He said: “It was a memorable day. It was very good to see people out in the streets, I waved to everyone. I felt like the Queen.”
This year he will also celebrate in style with a cake provided by Laura Belle Cakes of Renwick. The flavour will be whiskey and chocolate as Pauline leaves Bill with a large tot of whiskey and a sweet treat before bed every night.
When asked about the secret of a long life, Bill added: “I think you haven’t to worry about too much. Just take life as it comes.”
Bill will be accepting contributions until the end of May. To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bills-captain-tom-100-challenge