Tom Gilzean: Tartan coffin send-off for renowned fundraiser

Media caption,
Tom Gilzean spoke to the BBC a few years ago about his brother who was killed in the war

A prolific charity fundraiser who worked in the streets of Edinburgh until his death at 99 is to be buried in a tartan coffin.

Tom Gilzean, who raised £1m for good causes, was known for wearing his trademark tartan trousers while collecting on Princes Street and the Royal Mile.

His funeral will be held at St Mary's Cathedral, on 19 November.

The service will start at 12:45 followed by his burial at Mount Vernon.

Mr Gilzean spoke to the BBC a few years ago about his youngest brother, Douglas, who was killed in World War Two and who he named his son after.

His son Douglas Gilzean, 68, said he was overwhelmed by all the offers to remember his father.

"I couldn't believe when the funeral director said he wanted to help make his funeral special by making him a tartan coffin because he always wore tartan trousers," he said.

"His casket also has a big thistle at the bottom and we will drape his regiment flag across the middle but making sure his special tartan coffin can be seen.

"Everyone is welcome to come to all parts of his funeral as that's what he would have wanted, the more the merrier."

Image source, Tabby Blades/Edinburgh Children’s Hospital
Image caption,
Tom Gilzean in his trademark tartan trousers with his Oor Wullie statue in Edinburgh's Princes Street

It comes a day after a book of condolence was opened for Mr Gilzean at Edinburgh City Chambers, the first one Edinburgh Council has opened since the death of Nelson Mandela.

Inverleith councillor Gavin Barrie also said he would put a motion to full council for a street or building to be named after him.

Mr Gilzean died in veterans' hospital Erskine House in the capital on Monday night following a series of small strokes.

His family told BBC Scotland he died still wanting to collect money for charity.

Mr Gilzean collected for the Children's Hospital Charity, which now has a JustGiving page that has collected £500 since he died.

Douglas added: "He was given a free lunch every day for the past 15 years while he was out charity collecting by Gordon's Trattoria on the High Street.

"He used to call them his second family and they will be closing their restaurant on the day of his funeral as a mark of respect."

Mr Gilzean was honoured with an Oor Wullie statue in his image, as part of the Our Wullie Bucket Trail this summer.

He was outbid when the statue went up for auction, but a local taxi firm stepped in to commission another sculpture.

Mr Gilzean received the Edinburgh Award in 2015 and an MBE earlier this year for his prolific charity work.

A bus driver for Lothian Buses, he also served with the Royal Engineers from 1938 to 1946 as a despatch rider and in mine clearance.

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