Edinburgh fundraising legend Tom Gilzean, 98, recovers in hospital after fall

FUNDRAISING legend Tom Gilzean is recovering in hospital after taking a tumble at home and breaking his right hip.

Friday, 23rd November 2018, 6:47 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd November 2018, 6:54 pm
Tom Gilzean

The 98-year-old has been in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary since the accident on Monday, November 5.

Speaking from the hospital during her daily visit, Tom’s son’s partner Gina Clarke told the Evening News that he was “doing alright”.

She said: “He’s in reasonable spirits. He’s obviously been in lots of pain.”

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2016 Remembrance Day parade and wreath laying at City Chambers quadrangle - Tom Gilzean throws down a poppy. Pic: Greg Macvean.

Tom, who lives in Prestonfield, fell at around 11.40pm, alerting emergency responders via a panic button he wears on his wrist.

Gina said: “The phone rang and I always know when I get a call that late, it’s about Tom. My heart was in my mouth.”

She drove from her home in Livingston to ERI, to meet Tom and his neighbour George, who had travelled in the ambulance with him and waited until she arrived.

She said: “They quickly dealt with him and he had the operation a few days later and they told me that they’d nailed his hip back together.”

Tom is now in a room on his own after contracting a small infection, but he’s getting stronger, according to Gina.

She said: “He was disoriented for the first week or so because of the pain. He’s actually amazing for his age – he’s got more lives than a cat.”

The former bus driver, who has diabetes, “is not hankering to get home”, said Gina. “He recognises he needs to be a bit more able. He hasn’t had any physio yet to get him up and walking.

“He falls asleep quite a lot with the painkillers.”

Tom’s family don’t know how long he’ll remain on the ward.

Gina said: “He misses what he does because that’s his purpose in life. If it wasn’t for his collection I don’t think he would have survived.

“He lives to collect for the Sick Kids and his other charities.”

In September Tom revealed to the Evening News that he was within touching distance of his £1 million target after raising more than £960,000 thanks to his tireless efforts over the last 22 years.

The selfless pensioner known for his tartan trews started fundraising after the death of his wife Anne in 2000, taking to the streets come rain or shine.

A Second World War veteran who served in the Royal Engineers, Tom saw action in Burma and Africa and picked up a number of plaudits for his bravery.

His war honours include the 1939-45 Star, the Africa Star, the Burma Star, the France and Germany Star, the Defence Medal, and the Victory Medal.

He also has a 30th Armoured Corps medal earned during Operation Market Garden, the 1944 conflict made famous in the movie A Bridge Too Far.

It’s not the first time Tom has been laid up after injury.

After falling down the stairs in his home in 2016, Tom spent five months in Liberton Hospital in a back brace after breaking his spine, cracking his neck bone and shoulder bone.

Gina said: “If he’d fallen on stone ground it could have been much worse, he seems to be coping very well with it.”