Inspirational fundraiser Captain Tobias says he is “chuffed to bits” after finding out he is the youngest person on record to feature in the New Year Honours.
Tobias Weller was told just a month after his 11th birthday that he will be receiving the British Empire Medal (BEM) and now he cannot wait for a chance to meet the Queen at a royal garden party.
Tobias, who has cerebral palsy and autism, was nicknamed “Captain” after he was inspired by his hero Captain Sir Tom Moore to start raising money during the pandemic lockdowns.
He completed his third challenge in September and has so far raised more than £157,000 for Paces School, where he is a student, and The Children’s Hospital Charity, in his home town of Sheffield, South Yorkshire.
Tobias told the PA news agency: “It feels absolutely amazing to be honoured by the Queen.”
He said: “My mum told me about the honour on Christmas day and I thought ‘wow, I’m actually going to get an honour from Her Majesty the Queen’.”
Tobias and his mum, Ruth Garbutt, have been told he is the youngest recipient of the BEM on record and that appears to make him the youngest ever to be named in the honours list.
He said: “Yes, the youngest person on record to be on the honours list and receive a BEM.
“This makes me feel so proud and privileged.
“I’m chuffed to bits to be the youngest recipient of such an incredible honour.”
Tobias said: “I will receive the medal from the lord lieutenant at a local ceremony but I’ll also be invited to attend a royal garden party. Imagine that – a party with the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
“I can’t wait.”
Tobias’s fundraising challenges have been followed around the UK and he had been singled out for praise by dozens of leaders and celebrities, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill.
Last December he won the inaugural Captain Sir Tom Moore Young Unsung Hero Award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year event and met the 100-year-old.
His most recent challenge involved an Ironman, completed over the course of a year, involving 180km on his trike, a 4km swim and running the length of a full marathon.
Since completing this challenge in September he has been planning his latest fundraising venture for 2022. This will be a sponsored walk in which everyone will be encouraged to complete a kilometre in whatever way they feel appropriate and challenging.
Tobias said: “Since last September I’ve obviously been practising walking every day.
“Also I’ve attended a few fundraising events and I’ve even been to Captain Sir Tom’s family home for afternoon tea.
“But my favourite event has to be attending the Children’s Hospital award ceremony. I got a standing ovation which made me feel magnificent and very proud.”
He said: “I am looking forward to 2022 and all the things it will bring.
“I can’t wait to organise my next fundraising event – a sponsored walk called T In The Park.
“I’m also hoping to go on holiday and then next September, I’ll be going to secondary school.
“I’ll get to study French at school and I’ve been waiting a long time for that to happen.”
Ms Garbutt said: “It just feels quite surreal. It’s a most amazing feeling.
“I’m so pleased for him. Tobias works hard every single day of his life and he’s done so much fundraising and it’s been recognised beautifully. It’s a massive honour and a privilege and I’m a little bit overwhelmed.”
She said she had been proud of all the accolades Tobias has received but this one tops them all.
“To have his name in the honours list, to be the youngest-ever recipient on record on the honours list and to have an award from the Queen,” she said. “It’s just amazing.”
Ms Garbutt said: “It’s been such an amazing experience, nearly two years now – lots and lots of opportunities and experiences we could never have predicted could have happened.
“Tobias has done so well through everything that he does and he’s been recognised in so many different ways.
“And he’s pushed himself as hard as he can.”
Tobias’s fundraising page can be found at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/captaintobias9