Captain Tom Moore’s 100th birthday will be marked by an RAF flypast.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) will carry out an aerial salute on Thursday after Captain Tom raised £29 million for the NHS by walking laps of his garden.
This will replace a flypast over his Bedfordshire home planned by a Spitfire restoration company in Kent.
Timings of the BBMF flypast have not been publicised amid fears that crowds could gather to view the spectacle.
An MoD spokesman said: “Weather permitting, aircraft from the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will complete a flypast to celebrate Captain Tom’s birthday and mark his amazing fundraising achievement.
“The great British public is encouraged to follow Captain Tom’s disciplined example and not gather to watch the flypast but continue following PHE (Public Health England) guidelines on social distancing.”
The BBMF, based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, features various aircraft, including six Spitfires and a Lancaster bomber.
Kent’s Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar, which restores Spitfires, said in a statement it was denied permission for its flight by the Department for Transport due to the coronavirus lockdown.
It added: “Getting a Spitfire overhead for Captain Tom was always the primary goal and we’re thrilled that this may still be possible.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps claimed the flypast means Captain Tom will be honoured “in an even more significant way”.
He wrote on Twitter that it was “meant to be a surprise for Tom”, but confirmed it would be happening after it emerged his department had rejected the original planned flypast.
A school in Bedfordshire has been flooded with more than 125,000 cards from well-wishers across the globe for Captain Tom’s birthday.
Famous names including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Dame Kelly Holmes and England football captain Harry Kane were among those to send cards to Bedford School, where Captain Tom’s grandson, Benjie Ingram-Moore, is a pupil.
100 years old. Â£29 million raised for the NHS. 135,000 birthday cards received. 160,000 cards expected in total. 30kg of stamps which will raise Â£600 for charity. Â£60,000 received in the cards. 150 volunteers. 1,750 man-hours. 200 metres of ribbon. We salute you Captain Tom! pic.twitter.com/k7F4i1ish0— Bedford School (@BedfordSchool) April 28, 2020
Benjie turned to his school for help when he learned that the post office was being swamped with cards.
The 16-year-old said: “The volume of cards that have been sent to granddad is just astonishing. So many of the cards are truly heartfelt, with thousands from young children who have taken the time to use their artistic talent and write a personal message.
“Another £60,000 has been generously donated via his birthday cards.
“It means a lot to granddad as well as us as a family. We are hugely proud of how the nation has taken granddad to its heart. Words can’t express how much I idolise him.”
Royal portrait artist Darren Baker has presented Captain Tom with a pastel portrait of himself and a sketch of Keighley, West Yorkshire, where the 99-year-old grew up.
Mr Baker, from Huddersfield, said: “We chatted for ages about Yorkshire. He was over the moon – his smile is as warm as his heart.”