Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Charity collector Thomas Gilzean breaks his back in fall

Tom Gilzean Image copyright Alex Lyons
Image caption Thomas Gilzean receiving a diabetic cake from Alex Lyons (L)

A 95-year-old war veteran who has raised almost £400,000 for charity has broken his neck, back and shoulder after falling down a flight of stone stairs at his Edinburgh home.

Thomas Gilzean is well known in the city for sitting in his wheelchair with his collecting tin on the Royal Mile, wearing his trademark tartan trousers.

The nonagenarian was taking a £700 bag of coins to the bank when he fell.

The pensioner is being treated at Liberton Hospital.

Rattle tins

Mr Gilzean funded the £10,000 Edinburgh Taxi Trade Children's Outing on Tuesday, which takes children with disabilities to Yellowcraigs beach for a day trip.

Alex Lyons, chairman of the Edinburgh Taxi Trade Children's Outing, told the BBC Scotland news website, he visited Mr Gilzean in hospital.

He said: "All he is concerned about is getting fit again to get back out to rattle his tins.

"He apologised to me saying he wouldn't be able to fundraise as much this year for us because he is in hospital. He is an amazing man.

"His major concern also is who is going to take over from him to carry on his fundraising.

"He was due to be at the outing on Tuesday but couldn't make it due to his injuries so we took him a diabetic cake, which he was over the moon about.

"I am upset he fell. He is such a tremendous guy who is out in all weathers rattling his tins."

Mr Gilzean is due to be a guest at the Queen's garden party on 4 July at Holyrood Palace.

Mr Lyons said the hospital said he might be able to be released for the day to attend the party in a wheelchair.

Mr Gilzean served in the Royal Engineers throughout World War Two - seeing action in Burma and Africa.

His war honours include the 1939-45 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 World War Two conflict made famous in the movie A Bridge Too Far and featured in the HBO television miniseries Band of Brothers.

He was also given the Edinburgh Award in 2015.

The pensioner started fundraising after the death of his wife Anne in 2000, and has since raised almost £160,000 for the Sick Kids Friends Foundation alone.

Image caption Thomas Gilzean can regularly be seen with his collecting tin on the Royal Mile, wearing his trademark tartan trousers

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