Why I’m backing campaign to have street named after Tom Gilzean – Steve Cardownie

Fundraiser Tom Gilzean had an infectious enthusiasm and did a huge amount for charity, writes Steve Cardownie.

Tuesday, 12th November 2019, 5:00 pm
Charity fundraiser extraordinaire Tom Gilzean. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

I well remember facilitating a meeting between Tom Gilzean and the then Lord Provost George Grubb in the City Chambers a few years ago.

Tom asked me if I could arrange it and I was only too glad to help, knowing full well that George would be delighted to entertain him. Along with Gordon Scott, the High Street restaurateur who was a close friend of Tom’s (and who provided free daily sustenance to Tom in his trattoria) I sat and listened to the two of them swapping stories about their experiences in the armed forces.

George had served as a Royal Air Force padre in Germany and Cyprus and was eager to hear from Tom, who was in The Royal Engineers during the Second World War, and Tom was only too delighted to oblige.

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His memory was intact and his eyes were alight as he regaled us with stories of his exploits, most humorous, others tinged with sadness.

Like others I was impressed with Tom’s infectious enthusiasm and his obvious love of life. Nothing seemed to get him down – even when he suffered several personal mishaps he was upbeat and always optimistic.

I well remember Tom traversing up and down the High Street getting out of his motorised wheelchair to enter all the pubs with his cheery smile and his well-used catchphrase “Open your hearts and open your wallets” in his unstinting quest to raise even more money for his favourite charities, with the Sick Kids in particular benefiting from his efforts.

Last Wednesday’s Evening News front page was a fitting tribute to a remarkable man – and a street named after him would be even more so!