Captain Sir Tom Moore memorabilia likely to be linked to his BBC Sports Personality of the Year award were among the items being taken away on a trolley from an illegally-built spa building in his name on Thursday - just days before it’s set to be demolished.
The removal of wrapped belongings from the C-shaped block was taking place as fed-up neighbours told The Independent the family had made a “mockery” out of the Second World War veteran, who became a hero of the pandemic by raising £33 million for the NHS before he died in 2021.
Among the items being shifted from the concrete building were two large white boxes with the BBC Sports Personality of The Year Awards logo on them. They are likely to be linked to an award given to Sir Tom at the annual televised show watched by millions in 2020.
The removal of items looked to be another step toward the demolition of the unauthorised development in Sir Tom’s garden in Marston Moretaine in Bedfordshire. The garden was where he became a national hero by completing 100 laps during lockdown to raise the cash.
But unlike the approved plans for an L-shaped block, the building, which was to be used by The Captain Tom Foundation, turned into a larger building that included a spa pool - much to the annoyance of people living nearby.
Residents complained to Central Bedfordshire Council before a revised planning application was submitted by Colin Ingram, the husband of Sir Tom’s daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore. After refusal, they appealed but lost at a planning inquiry hearing where inspector Diane Fleming ordered the building be taken down by 7 February.
After months of inactivity in the garden, over the past few days work appears to be finally happening ahead of demolition with items being removed. Earlier this week, an exercise bike and tins of paint appeared to be removed, before on Thursday, several wrapped items, thought to be memoriabilia, were taken away.
They included BBC Sports Personality of The Year Award boxes. Sir Tom was given the Helen Rollason Award, presented by Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, that recognises outstanding achievement in the face of adversity and was introduced to the show in 1999 in memory of the BBC Sport journalist and presenter.
The three-year ordeal from the start of work on the building has involved many people who live close to the former home of Sir Tom in one corner of the quiet village close to Milton Keynes.
Having been supportive of Sir Tom’s fundraising, many in the village have turned against the family following the building of unauthorised block, which some liken to a prison.
Labourer Ian Knight, 50, said: “We were proud of what he’s done, but now we’re a laughing stock..... the whole thing has ruined Sir Tom’s legacy, we’re gutted over the situation, but we also want to see the building pulled down like anyone else would have to do if they did the same.”
Roger Haddon lives in a residential home called Manor Court closeby. The retired 78-year-old said: “The daughter and her husband shouldn’t have done that [the building] - they should have stuck to what they planned.
“When you look up through the houses now, all you see is breeze block from the site, it’s not even plastered. It’s what these people have to look at.”
He added: “The worst bit is that it’s made a mockery of Captain Tom’s name.”
A resident who has his back garden fence close to the building said he was relieved by work to remove it.
He said: “What we don’t understand is why they thought they could get away with it. They are wealthy people. They must have been very badly advised by someone - and now it looks like they are having to correct it all.”
The Captain Tom Foundation is currently the subject of an investigation by the Charity Commission.
Ms Ingram-Moore also admitted keeping £800,000 from three books the late army veteran had written, despite the prologue of one of them suggesting the money would go to charity.
The Independent approached Ms Ingram-Moore for comment.