Fundraiser Tom Gilzean wins Edinburgh Award

Tom Gilzean. Picture: Greg Macvean
Tom Gilzean. Picture: Greg Macvean
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HE describes himself as a mere “commoner” – but by the charities he’s helped over the years, he’s treated like royalty.

Relentless fundraiser Tom Gilzean, who can be seen shaking his collection tin come rain or shine, is set to cement his place in the Capital’s story after being named the winner of the prestigious Edinburgh Award.

His handprints will now be cast at the City Chambers alongside the likes of Ian Rankin, JK Rowling, Professor Peter Higgs and Sir Chris Hoy.

The 94-year-old has raised a record £50,000 this year, half of which will go to the Sick Kids Friends Foundation, bringing his total to £250,000 since he took up the task at the age of 80.

Former Royal Engineer Tom said he was “truly confounded” to learn he had been chosen.

“Commoners like me don’t usually win awards like this,” he said. “It’s absolutely incredible to be recognised for what I do, but that’s not why I do it. I just want to give back to those less fortunate than myself.”

The former bus driver and Second World War veteran took up fundraising after the death of his wife Anne in 2000.

Since then, he’s raised cash for a host of charities, including the Taxi Trade Children’s Outing, Scotland’s Armed Forces Recovery Centre and the Sick Kids Friends Foundation.

Money raised has been used to provide scanning equipment worth £53,000 and family services such as art therapy.

He’s already donated £12,000 of this year’s haul to Erskine’s Personnel Recovery Centre, where a lounge has been named in his honour. And next year, he plans to return to the streets in his tartan trews and raise even more.

“I always try my best to be out there every day, rain or shine – because those charities depend on me,” Tom said.

“I’m 94, and I’m praying I make it to 95 so that next year I can raise £60,000. Without people out there trying to help and raise money, these charities wouldn’t be able to do the great work they do on a daily basis.

“I may be in a wheelchair, but I do it every day.”

His big-hearted accomplishments meant Tom “ticked all the boxes” for the annual award, designed to honour those who make an outstanding contribution to the city.

Lord Provost Donald Wilson said: “Tom was the unanimous winner of the Edinburgh Award, and I think rightly so.

“The award is all about recognising people who make a difference to the Capital at home and abroad and with everything Tom has done for charity, and the way he is known even by tourists to the city, mean he ticked all the boxes. This is a fitting award.”

nash.riggins@edinburghnews.com