It’s great news indeed that Tom Gilzean is on the road to recovery and that he hopes to be seen on his usual spot in Princes Street sometime soon, writes Steve Cardownie,
It reminded me of the time when, on returning from holiday, I stopped at a shop to pick up some milk when I spotted the front page headline in this newspaper that Tom was not being granted a licence by the city council to collect money for charity on the basis that he had exceeded the number of days you could collect in any one year.
I could scarcely believe that the then convener of the licensing committee had made this decision, given Tom’s track record and status in the city, and resolved to rectify the matter first thing in the morning.
I first sought Tom out at his regular eatery, Gordon Scott’s Trattoria on the High Street, to reassure him that it would be taken care of as he had been quoted in the paper saying that he was devastated by the news. Then on to the said convener to politely persuade him that he should reflect on his decision and that I was actively seeking a way to accommodate Tom’s application.
I contacted the director of corporate services, Jim Inch, and he agreed that, given the circumstances, a special exemption from policy should be made in Tom’s case and he was granted the appropriate licence to continue his good work.
That was back in 2010 and Tom now at 99 years of age is still determined to take up his daily position on Princes Street come hail or shine as he raises funds for his favoured charities. Of course Tom is an iconic figure in Edinburgh and serves as an example to all that, with passion and determination, age need not be a barrier to actively pursuing your goals.
I hope that we hear for some time yet, Tom’s hearty call of “open your hearts and open your wallets” and that his charities continue to reap the benefits from this remarkable man.