Only if Hannah Ingram-Moore were found abusing a kitten, or defiling the grave of Queen Elizabeth, could she become a more appropriate hate figure for the British.
The younger daughter of the late Captain Tom Moore, the man who captured the nation’s hearts when he walked a hundred lengths of the family garden to raise money for NHS Charities Together, she stands accused of opportunistically profiting from his legacy. In doing so, she has not only tarnished people’s memories of that sentimental tale, but has been seen to disrespect two of Britain’s most sacred icons: the greatest generation and the NHS.
Headlines seethe with bile. Piers Morgan, interviewing the family in a kind of latter-day Frost/Nixon face-off, wore a mask of moral opprobrium generally adopted by the essentially amoral. Mike Graham, Morgan’s TalkTV colleague, who appears to spend his life in a perpetual state of angry bafflement, made Ingram-Moore his “plank of the week”.
Hating on the Ingram-Moores offers the potential for catharsis
The Ingram-Moores have been accused of illegally building a spa and pool next to their house using the name of the Captain Tom Foundation — a charity which was “inspired by the outpouring of goodwill and generosity that followed Captain Tom’s fundraising walk”. Its construction, I should add, was paid for from family funds and not charitable donations — though their claim that it was to be used by the community seems questionable. Did they plan to buy a yacht for the whole neighbourhood as well?
In 2022, the Charity Commission opened an inquiry into the foundation to address concerns about its independence from the family. Mrs Ingram-Moore herself had an £85,000 salary as its CEO — a position and a salary she says she was offered by its trustees. (She does not hold a position there now.)
Finally, people are annoyed that the family have kept the hundreds of thousands of pounds earned from the three books Captain Moore authored before his death, rather than donating the proceeds to charity. The family claims that keeping this income was what Moore wanted.
Mrs Ingram-Moore has certainly enjoyed the attention that her father’s efforts have brought to her. Visiting her website, you have the strong sense of a woman who believes that she deserves to be a public figure, too. “Everything in my life is about investing in others”, she is quoted on her own website as saying (a bit like if I interrupted my own article to add, “‘I believe in being good, and also handsome’ — Ben Sixsmith”). If you want Mrs Ingram-Moore to invest in you, in her role as a life coach, different programmes cost between £1,450 and £3,000.
Nonetheless, is there not something a bit silly about the level of hostility that the family have received? They have not been found to have misappropriated funds. Certainly, I think it strains credulity to think that Captain Tom, a 99-year-old, wrote three books in quick succession — a far more astonishing accomplishment, if true, than walking a hundred lengths of his garden — but it wasn’t illegal for them to keep the money.
Am I reaching? Yes, perhaps I’m reaching. There’s no doubt that the family have made as much of the opportunity as they could. Still, I think there is at least some extent to which the anger directed at Mrs Ingram-Moore and her family comes from a place of embarrassment. People are troubled by the thought that the whole situation was a bit ridiculous. Hating on the Ingram-Moores offers the potential for catharsis.
Captain’s Moore’s efforts were definitely admirable. It’s a rare bird who is so active at his age — or so public spirited. The £32.7 million that he raised is nothing to sneeze at. In the context of NHS spending, though, it is a drop in the bucket. People latched onto Captain Moore because they needed something positive to cling to — and his efforts were drowned in the saccharine theatrics of a nation gripped by lockdown fever.
He became an honorary colonel (I suppose “Major Tom” was taken). He was portrayed in fireworks at the 2020–2021 New Year’s Eve celebrations. He became — to no fault of his own — totemic in the rituals of strained positivity and virtue signalling that helped people not to think about the structural dysfunction of the NHS and the diminishing returns (to the extent that they had had them) of COVID regulations. As Sam Ashworth-Hayes wrote in these pages:
There is a strain of sentimentality in the British national character which is highly detrimental to evaluating systems objectively, let alone addressing serious structural problems.
Discomfited by memories of what we did, or “had to do”, during the pandemic, we lash out at minor villains — keen to unload our negative emotions. How else to explain a random staffer, who once had a little dance at a Conservative Christmas party, being interrogated by a journalist as if she had sold state secrets to ISIS? Boo the witch! It makes us feel better about ourselves.
I wouldn’t personally buy a car, or even a phone, from the Ingram-Moores, but let’s keep some perspective. They couldn’t live up to the tale of Captain Tom — but nothing could. It was a tale written in a half-mad time. At least their actions have added a sort of low comedy to the whole affair.
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