Tom Gilzean was an embodiment of altruism – leader comment

Charity collector Tom Gilzean pictured on his 95th birthday outside Gordon's Trattoria where they put on a special birthday lunch for him. (Picture: Greg Macvean)
Charity collector Tom Gilzean pictured on his 95th birthday outside Gordon's Trattoria where they put on a special birthday lunch for him. (Picture: Greg Macvean)
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Charity icon Tom Gilzean was a shining example of the benefits of altruism to one and all.

Tom Gilzean was many things. He was a bus driver, a Royal Engineer who helped liberate France and the Netherlands in the Second World War, a husband and a father.

For many of us, that would have been enough for a full life, but Tom, who has died at the age of 99, also did something went beyond the call of duty as a human being.

Come rain or shine, he donned his tartan trews and his medals and went out onto Edinburgh’s streets to seek donations for good causes, raising more than £1 million in the process and turning himself into an iconic figure.

READ MORE: Inspirational Edinburgh war veteran and legendary fundraiser, Tom Gilzean, dies aged 99

READ MORE: ‘A wonderful gentleman’ - Edinburgh pays tribute to legendary Edinburgh fundraiser Tom Gilzean who has died aged 99

He was a long-time supporter of charities, but in his later years, he found raising money for the likes of Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity and the Erskine care home for veterans helped him cope with depression following the death of his wife of 55 years in 2000.

Most of us struggle with life at times, but one lesson we should all learn from this inspirational person is this: do good things and you will feel better.

And just because altruism brings its own intangible rewards, this in no way reduces the selflessness of those, like Tom, who are its most shining examples.