Veteran Tom Gilzean knows exactly what it’s like to be helped out by the Sick Kids hospital.
The 92-year-old volunteer fundraiser was just ten when he fell through a glass roof while climbing in the 1930s, lacerating both his legs.
He ended up in the Sciennes hospital for several days and said the experience had stuck in his mind.
Mr Gilzean said: “I ripped my legs right open. They stitched them up and then I was out of there. I was in the bad books [with my parents] for months. I’ve never forgotten that visit. It was a nurse that worked in the operating theatre – one of the head nurses. She asked me to collect for charity for the Sick Kids and I said: ‘Oh yes, I’ll do that’.”
Mr Gilzean has raised a staggering £80,000 for the Sick Kids Friends Foundation in little more than five years, collecting funds most days on the Royal Mile.
Today, the good samaritan becomes the first nominee put forward for the Sick Kids Heroes awards.
The initiative, which marks the foundation’s 20th anniversary, has been launched to honour the brave patients, dedicated supporters and selfless staff who have made the hospital one of Edinburgh’s most respected institutions.
Mr Gilzean said he had chosen to donate money to the Sick Kids because they were a “very, very needy charity”.
The former soldier, who served in the Royal Engineers for 12 years, has admitted he would be happy to drop dead on the Royal Mile while working for charity.
He sits for up to three hours at a time at Castlehill with his collection tin, having raised more than £350,000 for his collective charities in total.
The widower will be officially awarded a British Empire Medal for his fundraising efforts at the City Chambers on March 25.
He has been nominated for the Sick Kids awards in the supporters category covering those whose efforts for the hospital have been outstanding.
Nominations must be submitted by April 11, ahead of judging on April 18. Members of the public will be able to vote via the Friends Foundation Facebook page.