The family story behind the Captain Sir Tom Phenomenon

The family story behind the Captain Sir Tom Phenomenon

30 June 2020

“If life were predictable, it would cease to be life, and be without flavour”. Eleanor Roosevelt

Hannah Ingram-Moore is the Co-Founder of Silverstone Technology Cluster member business Maytrix Group Ltd, based in Milton Keynes, and sits on the Silverstone Technology Cluster’s Gender Diversity & Equality Committee.

She is also the daughter of Captain Sir Tom Moore who has famously raised nearly £40m in aid of the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic by walking 100 lengths of his garden.

Hannah has very kindly written this blog for Silverstone Park, offering an insight into what was really going on behind the scenes as an innocent chat around a family BBQ rapidly turned into a global and near-unmanageable media frenzy.

From very humble beginnings
I don’t think anyone could have predicted what would come from sharing a family story that had the sole intent to give a little joy and raise some money, to support the NHS COVID-19 appeal.

For me and my family, that happy chat whilst having a BBQ has changed our lives and put us at the centre of the biggest positive news story around the world.

Wine, crisps, no sleep
In the very early days, we rallied as a family and managed the sudden and profound media interest that quickly became global; the story of Captain Sir Tom has been covered around the world; people in 163 countries donated.

I can safely say we lived off adrenaline and, for me, it was wine and crisps, too!

My husband, our son Benjie 16 and daughter Georgia 11 were sitting around our kitchen table managing what quickly turned into a tsunami of emails, phone calls and posts (our systems started to slow down when we had received over 1m emails)…

My father, Tom, and I looked down the lens of the camera, with over 20 interviews a day (to date over 350 including with Europe, South & North America, Asia including Russia, Africa and Australasia).

My husband and I were also doing our best to manage our business, Maytrix. I think, for me, this was one of the most challenging points in my career, yet one I have learned so much from.

During our fundraising journey, the entire family learnt skills we had never anticipated. “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”  Benjamin Franklin.

The Captain Tom story evolved in no small part due to how involved we were as a family, and this was one critical ingredient in the recipe for success. We all became closer than close, relying on each other physically and emotionally.

Resilience and diversity
We are not media trained. Yes, we have delivered presentations and been interviewed, but we did not have any formal training or experience.

One of the resulting traps that we fell into was agreeing to far too many interviews, driven entirely by our desire to raise more money for the appeal; we just didn’t want to stop for fear of the donations stopping.

We realised that we needed to take some control and manage the situation; we drew on everyone’s skills and played to all our strengths. My husband, a charted accountant, created a media schedule and with the help of Daisy, one of the Maytrix team, we managed the influx of media requests. Benjie managed the social media channels, whilst Georgia took on ‘meet and greet’ and hospitality. And also took care of the dogs!

Knowing when to ask for help
I must be very clear here, that most of the UK media were really very respectful and supportive; it was simply the volume of requests that was the problem.

Michael Ball was a huge support to the entire family, coaching us on how to handle many aspects of global attention. Chris Evans’s ‘Frothy Coffee Man’ leapt to our aid and introduced us to Gemma, who has become the glue for our new co-existing lives.

Nick Knowles made contact through a friend, to offer his help with press intrusion. Whilst we were talking, I told him that what we really needed was somebody to help manage the ever-increasing media frenzy.

He said he knew exactly the person; he was sure she would help pro bono. Within minutes, Megan Carver from Carver PR called me, and told me she would immediately represent us. I wanted to hug her! Within the first minute of them telling the media that they represented us, they had 1,000 emails; they are still valiantly and expertly managing Captain Sir Tom. Adam and Eve, media agency, swung in, also pro bono, to help create the ‘Captain Tom Foundation’.

We realised very quickly that it was our duty and responsibility to react and respond to the immense swell of kindness and generosity handed to Sir Tom and family. We also knew that we had to create legacy.

We have created and set up the Captain Tom Foundation – our mission: “To inspire hope where it is needed most.”

“Tomorrow Will be a Good Day.” Captain Sir Tom Moore