Central Taxis picks up bill for Tom Gilzean’s scooter repair

Central Taxis driver John Hood and Tom Gilzean. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Central Taxis driver John Hood and Tom Gilzean. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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A KIND-hearted taxi firm has raced to the aid of legendary fundraiser Tom Gilzean – after learning from the Evening News that he needed £800 to repair his disability scooter.

Central Taxis has offered to help the 95-year-old war veteran, who is well known for sitting in a range of locations around the city shaking a tin to raise money for charity.

We revealed earlier this week that the pensioner had worn out his mobility scooter, which is now in need of four new wheels, a full service and other repairs.

Tony Kenmuir, the director of Central Taxis, said the firm didn’t even have to think about helping Tom and offered him the funds immediately.

He said: “As soon as the Evening News hit the shelves we started getting text messages and emails from our drivers, drawing it to the attention of the management team.

“We didn’t even have to think about it as Mr Gilzean is well known in the taxi trade. He has always been a big supporter of the Taxi Trade Kids Outing and he makes regular contributions – I believe he has raised over £10,000 for the event over the last few years.

“As soon as we could, we got in touch with him and told him he had nothing to worry about, we would get his scooter fixed.”

Mr Gilzean has survived pneumonia four times and is also a diabetic, but refuses to give up his generous fund­raising efforts.

The pensioner only takes two days off a year and has raised almost £160,000 for the Sick Kids Friends Foundation.

Mr Kenmuir added: “He seemed really happy when we told him we would help out.”

Mr Gilzean served in the Royal Engineers throughout the Second World War and put his life on the line in conflict zones including Burma and Africa, and during Operation Market Garden.

In December last year, he was awarded a medal by the French ambassador.

He told the News: “I am absolutely delighted Central Taxis are paying for my scooter to be repaired.

“My front two tyres are worn down so much that when I go out in the cold weather I slide about all over the place, so I’m glad I won’t have that problem for much longer.

“I love fundraising and by the end of this year I’m hoping to have raised £60,000.

“I didn’t quite meet my target last year because I was in hospital for a while, but hopefully that won’t happen again.

“I go out early so I can catch people on their way to work, but I find I make the most money at lunchtimes.”

Erskine, a charity which helps former soldiers and pensioner groups, has also benefitted from Mr Gilzean’s efforts recently.

The veteran began raising 
money for charity in 2000 after his wife, Anne, died of cancer and he has continued ever since – despite often facing freezing cold and wet weather conditions.

The pensioner added: “My legs have ulcers now but that won’t stop me doing what I love and helping those in need.”

courtney.cameron@edinburghnews.com