FUNDRAISING war veteran Tom Gilzean has become the eighth person to be honoured with the coveted Edinburgh Award.
The 94-year-old stalwart was presented with an engraved Loving Cup by the Lord Provost at the City Chambers to mark his outstanding contribution to charity.
He follows in the footsteps of the likes of Ian Rankin, JK Rowling and Sir Chris Hoy – but is the first recipient to be honoured for charity work and philanthropy.
The retired bus driver, who started collecting for charity to stave off depression following the death of his wife of 55 years, said he had raised more than £300,000 – three times as much as previously
Every day he can be found in his signature tartan trousers on the Royal Mile or Princes Street in rain or shine collecting for his chosen charities, including the Sick Kids.
Edinburgh and surrounding parts are very good to me, they look after me in every way.”Tom Gilzean
He has been awarded several honours, including the British Empire Medal by the Queen in 2013.
But Tom insisted that receiving the Edinburgh Award was his “proudest moment” because it was given to him by the people of his home city.
“Edinburgh and surrounding parts are very good to me, they look after me in every way,” he said during last night’s ceremony.
“Don’t think I’m not grateful. Edinburgh people are the salt of the earth when it comes to collecting for charities.
“Believe me, they give with their heart as I call out ‘open up your hearts’.”
An impression of Tom’s handprints has been immortalised on a flagstone outside the City Chambers alongside those of previous Edinburgh Award recipients, including Richard Demarco, George Kerr, Professor Peter Higgs and Elizabeth Blackadder.
“I am in good company and it makes me feel very humble to be included alongside them,” said Tom.
Among the highlights of the night was Rachel McKenzie, head of voluntary fundraising at the Sick Kids Friends Foundation, telling the assembled guests if it was possible to “bottle Tom and sell him” they could fully fund his favourite charities for many years to come.
Christine De Luca, the Edinburgh Makar, recited a poem composed especially for the occasion in which she said Tom was “still on parade” tirelessly collecting for charity.
Councillor Donald Wilson, the Lord Provost, said: “Tom Gilzean is a familiar face on the High Street and is well known for being out in all weathers, come rain or shine.
“His sense of service and dedication to others make him a fantastic role model and a tremendous recipient of the Edinburgh Award.”
Tom’s daughter Maureen, who travelled from Spain especially for the ceremony, said the whole family was “very proud” of him.
His charities include the Sick Kids Friends Foundation, the Armed Forces Personnel Recovery Centre and the Edinburgh Taxi Trade Children’s Outing.
A former soldier with the Royal Engineers, Tom faced Rommel’s Afrika Korps, the Imperial Japanese Army in Burma and Hitler’s Wehrmacht in France and Belgium.