Edinburgh war veteran Tom, 98, hopes to be back fundraising in 2019

Big-hearted charity fundraiser Tom Gilzean hopes to be back rattling his collection tins on Princes Street in the New Year, after a fall took him out of action nearly two months ago.

Thursday, 20th December 2018, 7:25 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th December 2018, 7:31 pm
Voracious charity collector Tom Gilzean with Amy Russell and Ollie Snape. Pic: Jon Savage Photography

The 98-year-old broke his right hip after taking a tumble at home in November and was recovering in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary before being moved to Liberton Hospital this week.

Tom’s son’s partner, Gina Clarke told the Evening News that the Capital legend was getting stronger every day.

She said: “He’s slowly recovering and getting there. He’s up and about to a degree and starting physiotherapy.

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“He’s got some problems with his heels which is holding him back from being able to walk but he’s in good spirits.”

Although the former bus driver won’t be home for Christmas, family and friends have been rallying round, visiting regularly.

Gina said: “We’ll all go and see him on Christmas Day. He won’t be ready for release for a while. We’re waiting to see how he heals.”

She added: “We always know when Tom is getting well, he likes to let everyone know how he likes things to be done.”

Tom, who lives alone in Prestonfield, fell at around 11.40pm on Monday, November 5, alerting emergency responders via a panic button he wears on his wrist.

Gina rushed to his side at the ERI where Tom was taken by ambulance and underwent surgery a few days later.

Tom was moved from the ERI to Liberton Hospital on Wednesday which family take as a positive step forward.

Gina said: “He’s desperate to get out now and go home. He’s got that as his goal.

“Tom thanks everyone for their support. We’re all hoping he’ll be back home very soon and back on the streets collecting in the New Year. That’s what he wants”

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 for his chosen charities, including the Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity, thanks to his tireless efforts over the last 22 years.

The selfless pensioner known for his tartan trousers started fundraising after the death of his wife Anne in 2000, taking to the streets in all weather.

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.

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

Despite wanting to be at home, Tom is enjoying the attention.

Gina said: “The nurses have all been so good and patient with him.

“Tom is a very, very strong man. He’s got a strong heart – in more ways than one.”