Charity star war vet needs help after wearing out scooter


A WAR veteran aged 95 has worn out his disability scooter raising almost £400,000 for charity – and now needs  £800 to fix it.

Tom Gilzean served in the Royal Engineers throughout the Second World War, putting his life on the line in conflict zones such as Burma and Africa, and during Operation Market Garden.

The selfless Scot, from Edinburgh, has worked so hard for good causes his scooter needs four new wheels, a full service and other repairs.

Tom, who takes just two days off a year, has raised almost £160,000 for the Sick Kids Friends Foundation (SKFF) alone.

Now the SKFF is helping Tom by urging the public and businesses to come forward with donations to his scooter repair fund.

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Tom when he was only 24-years-old in the Royal Engineers.

Tom is well known in his home city for sitting for hours on his scooter in all weathers and shaking his collection tin. The veteran has survived pneumonia four times, and is diabetic, but refuses to give up.

Other beneficiaries of his charity work include Edinburgh Taxi Trade Outing, OAP groups, and Erskine, which helps former soldiers.

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Tom is well known around the city for fundraising.

Tom doesn’t like to talk about his war experiences but his honours include the 1939-1945 Star, the Africa Star, the Burma Star, the France and Germany Star, the Defence Medal, and the Victory Medal.

He also has a 30th Armoured Corps medal earned during Operation Market Garden – the September 1944 Netherlands battle made famous in the movie A Bridge Too Far..

Tom said: “I never ask for help but the wheelchair is going to cost about £800. It’s the wheels I’m worried about as the current ones are very smooth now.

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Tom with his wife Anne on their wedding day.

“I can’t go out in the snow. It skids all over the place. I would end up in the middle of the road in front of a bus.”

Tom, who lives independently in his own home, added: “I would be absolutely delighted if there was someone in the city who would be able to help me out and carry out the necessary repairs on my wheelchair, so I can continue with my fundraising and hopefully smash my target this year.

“I just want to help the people. I enjoy giving it all away. I’m nicely here myself> I have my television and I have my own food so have all I need.”

Tom first began fundraising after his beloved wife Anne passed away from cancer in 2000.



Edinburgh-born war veteran Tom Gilzean (95) has been helping to raise money on the streets of Edinburgh for The Sick Kids Friends Foundation for 33 years. And now needs help to repair his wheelchair so he can continue his charity work. IN PIC (LtoR) Tom Gilzean
Edinburgh-born war veteran Tom Gilzean (95) has been helping to raise money on the streets of Edinburgh for The Sick Kids

The couple were married for 55 years and met in 1944 while out dancing in Edinburgh.

Last year he raised £30,000 for the SKFF, £10,000 for Erskine, £10,000 towards the Edinburgh Taxi Trade Outing and £5000 to an OAP group.

This year, the devoted veteran has set himself a target of raising a further £60,000 for the the SKFF.

Pippa Johnston, Director of Fundraising and Marketing at the charity, said: “Tom is an inspiring man who has dedicated so many years to giving back. Now, though, he is in need of support, and we are hoping that there are others out there who are just as kind-hearted as he is and who will come forward to help him.”