SIR Tom Moore has congratulated a fellow centenarian and lockdown walking hero who has raised more than £45,000 for charity.

He praised Joan Willett for completing a 17-mile walking challenge on her 104th birthday.

Mrs Willett, who had life-saving heart surgery 20 years ago, has spent the last six weeks walking up and down the hill outside her care home in Hastings in aid of the British Heart Foundation.

Appearing on the Lorraine TV show on Wednesday morning, she was surprised with a personal message from Sir Tom and his family.

Speaking via videolink, Sir Tom said: “Well done Joan, you’ve done a very good job. Thank you very much and keep going.”

Former British Army officer Sir Tom has raised more than £32 million after completing 100 sponsored lengths of his garden.

He has become a national hero and was knighted by the Queen last week in a ceremony he said left him “overwhelmed with pride and joy”.

Joan was delighted with his message. Speaking on the programme just before their virtual meeting, she said: “I would like to meet to Sir Tom Moore one day, but I would like to thank him also. It was because of his efforts that I started on my walk.”

Little did she know she would get to “meet” Sir Tom a few seconds later. After hearing his message, Joan was elated. She said: “Thank you very much indeed. I hope you continue to enjoy life as much as I am.”

In a remarkable fundraising campaign, Joan’s image has been broadcast over Piccadilly Circus and she appeared on national television.

Joan, who lives at Old Hastings House residential home, said she had rewarded herself with chocolate every time she made it up the hill four times.

She said the campaign had brought out “the best of human nature”.

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive at the BHF, said: “It’s so touching to hear Sir Tom Moore’s message for Joan – what an inspiration they both are to us all. The BHF is so grateful to Joan for her incredible efforts to raise urgently needed funds for our life-saving research. Her support means so much, particularly at a time when the Covid-19 crisis has devastated charity funding for research.

“Joan is an incredible lady, and this message from Sir Tom Moore will mean so much to her. The money that Joan has raised will help other people to have live long and fulfilling lives just like her, and have a lasting legacy through BHF’s life-saving research.” You can donate to Joan’s fundraiser at