FUNDRAISING pensioner and war veteran Tom Gilzean has been mooted as a potential candidate for The Edinburgh Award by the Lord Provost.
Mr Gilzean, 93, who can be seen collecting money on the Royal Mile in all weathers, has raised more than £100,000 for charities and good causes in and around Edinburgh, benefiting children, OAPs and war veterans.
In January, we revealed officials were coming under mounting pressure to recognise Mr Gilzean’s contribution to the Capital by awarding him the Freedom of the City, an honour reserved for those who have “distinguished themselves through their work or efforts” and to recognise “the respect and high esteem in which they are held by the people of Edinburgh”.
We can now exclusively reveal that Lord Provost Donald Wilson has instead suggested that Mr Gilzean be nominated for The Edinburgh Award, “a prestigious annual award to honour an outstanding individual who has made a positive impact on the city”.
A letter sent from the Lord Provost to a pensioner campaigning for Mr Gilzean, said: “I completely agree that Tom Gilzean is more than worthy of full recognition for his fundraising work and contribution to life in the city. I was very pleased as Lord Lieutenant to award the British Empire Medal on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen to Mr Gilzean only last year.”
The Lord Provost made the presentation when Mr Gilzean was a guest at his inaugural garden party in September.
The letter continues: “I suggest that the ‘Edinburgh Award’ would be a more appropriate honour to bestow upon Mr Gilzean.”
Previous winners of the award, who are presented with an engraved Loving Cup and also have their handprints reproduced on a flagstone in the City Chambers Quadrangle, include JK Rowling, Ian Rankin, Nobel Prize winner Professor Peter Higgs and Sir Chris Hoy. Professor Higgs and Sir Chris both went on to be awarded the Freedom of Edinburgh.
Sheila Gilmore MSP said: “I would like to see Mr Gilzean being given some kind of award from Edinburgh specifically, and The Edinburgh Award would certainly be a way to recognise those achievements.”
A spokesman for the Royal British Legion Scotland said recognition for Mr Gilzean’s tireless efforts would be “right and fitting”.
Kevin Gray MM, Chief Executive Officer at The Royal British Legion Scotland, said: “I have personally witnessed the extreme effort he puts in to raise money for veterans and other local charities. To reach £100,000 is an outstanding achievement. We believe it would only be right and fitting for the City of Edinburgh to recognise Tom and his remarkable achievements with a prestigious accolade like the City of Edinburgh Award.”
But some of those campaigning on Mr Gilzean’s behalf say that award is not enough.
The pensioner who received the letter from the Lord Provost, who did not wish his name to be printed, said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a film made about Tom Gilzean one day. He’s done so much for this city and should be given the biggest accolade we can offer while he is still here to enjoy it. I will continue to campaign until he is given the Freedom of Edinburgh.”
Nominations for The Edinburgh Award can be made on the council website.