92-year-old former soldier and charity fundraiser receives honour

Tom Gilzean on the Royal Mile. Picture: Greg Macvean
Tom Gilzean on the Royal Mile. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A VETERAN who has raised record amounts for charity has been recognised in the New Year Honours List.

Former soldier Tom Gilzean picked up a BEM (British Empire medal) for his services to charitable fundraising in the Capital. The 92-year-old was among more than 20 local figures recognised in this year’s Honours List, with Professor Peter Higgs and Olympic rower Katherine Grainger also singled out for their achievements. Tom started collecting for charity five years ago and has raised more than £70,000.

He began collecting after being contacted by a friend who wanted help raising funds for the Sick Kids Friends Foundation and has since said he’d be happy to drop dead on the Royal Mile while working for charity.

The Sick Kids Friends Foundation is the biggest beneficiary, but money also goes to the Erskine home in Gilmerton – which received £5000 from the pensioner in May this year – the Rock Trust homeless charity and the Prestonfield Neighbourhood Centre for the elderly. He has also donated thousands to Edinburgh’s taxi drivers to help fund their annual seaside day out for children.

Last year Mr Gilzean raised £40,000 in a year despite spending three weeks in hospital and going on an 11-day cruise.

The widower, who served in the Royal Engineers for 12 years, including fighting in Europe and the Second World War, has raised more than £70,000 for the Sick Kids Friends Foundation.

In December 2010, the Evening News stepped in after council chiefs tried to ban Tom from his collection spot – eventually the council handed him a licence to continue his efforts.

Maureen Harrison, chief executive of the Sick Kids Friends Foundation, said: “We are absolutely delighted for Tom.

“This is a richly deserved honour and is a true reward for his monumental fundraising efforts.”