Tom Bruce, a true local hero, has passed away but his legacy lives on – Donald Anderson
Over the summer I had a cry for help. Tom Bruce was the head boy at Liberton High School. He excelled at football, basketball, and academically.
Everyone knew him and liked him. When my favourite band at the time covered the old Ray Davies classic ‘David Watts’, I remember thinking that Tom was Liberton’s David Watts. Nobody had a bad word to say about him.
In 2017 Tom was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. It is the mark of the man that his response was to plan a major fundraising campaign for Myeloma UK to raise £60,000 by his 60th birthday in April.
Sadly, the campaign (as with so many things) was set back by lockdown, but he was keen to get on with it and asked if I could help. I hadn’t seen or spoken to him since our school days, so of course I said I’d be glad to help.
I wasn’t ready for the whirlwind that was Tom when we met face to face. We met upstairs at Gilmerton Miners Welfare Club. He planned an array of activities and events, added to which he’d offered to help the Miners Club’s ambitions to secure disabled access to its function room. He rattled off a list of funds and organisations that he would seek funding from and gave me my instructions. I took them gladly.
He launched his campaign in this very paper with great support from Gilmerton Miners Welfare Club, £1,000 from Shawfair LLP, from that great Gilmerton institution that is the Bernard Hunter Company, and from many Gilmerton residents. I was roped in to help secure sponsorship for the Race Night and of course I would take a table at his Charity Auction in the new year.
My old school friends, most of whom hadn’t seen Tom since leaving school all stepped up and gave generously to the campaign.
After our discussions, I contacted the Evening News editor Euan McGrory to see if we could get some extra publicity and he at once allocated a reporter to help with the campaign. I also contacted the new head of campaigns at Myeloma UK. She hadn’t even started in her role but immediately offered to help.
There was great news in October when Tom was advised that his condition had improved, and chemo treatment would only be needed once a month. Things were looking much better, and I thought there was plenty of time to step up the campaign ahead of his birthday. Tragically it was not to be. Tom died on November 1.
Tom was truly remarkable. Sometimes you meet people who you just know are special. I have had an incredibly lucky life and I’ve been able to meet my biggest heroes. I’ve added Tom Bruce to that list.
Sadly, Tom won’t be able to finish his campaign. But there are many more people like Tom who are fighting multiple myeloma. Please give generously if you can.
Tom’s funeral is at 10am on December 3 in the main Chapel at Mortonhall Crematorium. The thoughts of the Gilmerton and Liberton communities are with his partner Diane and all Tom’s family.