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Edinburgh pays tribute to legendary fundraiser Tom Gilzean

Tom Gilzean
Tom Gilzean

A much-loved Scottish charity fundraiser has died.

Stationed almost daily on Edinburgh’s Princes Street or Royal Mile, Tom Gilzean was, to many locals, as much of a staple of the city centre as Edinburgh Castle or the Scott Monument.

Dressed in his trademark tartan trousers and proudly wearing his war medals, the 99-year-old war veteran spent decades fundraising for charity.

He raised more than £1 million over the years – and was honoured with an Oor Wullie statue in his image, as part of the charity trail formed in honour of the comic character this summer.

Mr Gilzean could often be spotted beside the replica, proudly rattling his tin.

The grandfather-of-four, who received an MBE in June for his charity work, died on Monday at the Erskine Edinburgh Nursing Home for war veterans.

He will be buried at Mount Vernon Cemetery in Edinburgh beside his wife Anne, who died nine years ago.

He would have been 100 next May.

His son Douglas, 68, who lives in Livingston, spoke to BBC Scotland about his dad.

He said: “My father lived his life to collect for his charities so when he found himself bed-bound after a fall I think he just gave up.

“We are so immensely proud of him.

“He was an icon for his charity collecting and nobody in the family will be able to fill his shoes.”

Gina Clarke, Mr Gilzean’s daughter-in-law, added: “We are all very sad.

“There was only one Tom Gilzean and he will be very much missed.”

Paying tribute to Mr Gilzean, Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, Frank Ross, said: “Tom Gilzean was the star of the Royal Mile and Princes Street.

“Nothing would dampen his spirits or stop him going above and beyond to raise fantastic amounts of money for charity.

“Come rain or come shine, good health and bad, there Tom would be wearing his trademark tartan trousers selflessly shaking his tin for charity.”

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