War veteran who raised £1m for charity dies aged 99

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Tom Gilzean was a much-loved fixture on the streets of central Edinburgh. 

5th November 2019 by Gavin Stuart 2 Comments

A war veteran who raised over £1m for charity has died at the age of 99.

Tom Gilzean took to the streets with a collection tin following the death of his wife Anne 19 years ago.

He became a much-loved fixture on Edinburgh’s Princes Street and Royal Mile, easily identifiable by his trademark tartan trousers.

Mr Gilzean, who served in the Second World War with the Royal Engineers, died at the Erskine House veterans' hospital in Edinburgh on Monday after a series of strokes.

Son Douglas, 68, told BBC Scotland his father still wanted to raise money for charity in his last days.

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."

Earlier this year, Mr Gilzean was honoured with an Oor Wullie statue in his image, part of the summer’s Oor Wullie bucket trail.

Although a crowdfunded campaign to buy the statue for Mr Gilzean was outbid, the artist behind the sculptures had pledged to create a copy for the fundraiser.

Mr Gilzean, who was named Scotland’s fundraiser of the year in 2015, is survived by son Douglas and daughter Maureen, 72.  

He will be buried alongside his wife at Mount Vernon in Edinburgh.

5th November 2019 by Harvey Tilley

Very sad news about an incredible man who has lived his life to help others - what a life and what a super role model

6th November 2019 by lok Yue

Absolutely: an example to us all of what philanthropy and volunteering really mean