Readers urged to help Edinburgh veteran reach £1m in fundraising

Tom Gilzean collecting on the Royal Mile. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Tom Gilzean collecting on the Royal Mile. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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He’s a familiar face to many as he braves all weathers and with the news that 98-year-old Tom Gilzean is within touching distance of his £1 million fundraising target, the Evening News is getting behind him.

Wheelchair-bound World War Two veteran Tom revealed last week he had raised more than £960,000 thanks to the generosity of Edinburgh residents and visitors. Tom, a vision in tartan whose favourite fundraising spot is outside Primark on Princes Street, is a former bus driver whose aim is to ease the burden carried by those in need.

He has been collecting money for charities close to his heart for the past 22 years.

Now the Evening News is asking its readers to help inspiring Tom reach his goal as soon as possible. That could be through donating a percentage of your business’ daily takings to his tins or bringing him a bite to eat when he is on the streets, or even encouraging your children to auction off their favourite cuddly toys to boost his charity bank account.

In 2015, Tom, who has donated to the Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity, the Armed Forces Personnel Recovery Centre and the Edinburgh Taxi Trade Children’s Outing, received the Edinburgh Award – only the eighth person ever to do so.

He was presented with an engraved Loving Cup by the Lord Provost at the City Chambers to mark his outstanding contribution to charity.

Much loved by all in the city for turning out every day to shake his collection tins, only pausing when ill health forces him to stay at home, Tom has been congratulated and championed by readers for decades and with the news he is close to his incredible goal, he is being celebrated once more.

Reader Marion McLaren said: “Congratulations Tom, you have excelled in every aspect. When myself and my family and friends come through to Edinburgh from Fife, you always say hello. You don’t just collect donations from passers-by, but you also love to talk about the reasons why you do this. Hats off to you for what you provide and give to us all. Respect to you Tom, you are exceptional and loved by many people who have been blown away by your generosity. Thank you for everything.”

Safaa Mirza said: “Tom is such a nice man. He is always smiling and encouraging everyone to give some money to charity. He always brings a smile to my face when I see him. He is so nice and always up for a small conversation and appreciates every penny you give. God bless him.”

Patricia Mellon said: “Tom, you are a true, honourable gentleman with a heart of gold.”

Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “In many ways, Tom is the face of Princes Street and to achieve this important milestone will be celebrated across the city.

“He is an example of selfless determination in the face of some adversity, given his physical disability. He never fails to bring a smile to the face of residents or holidaymakers who see him daily on Princes Street. I wish him well and here’s to the next million.”