Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Tourists take Edinburgh street beggar to Sweden for Christmas

Jimmy Fraser with Annis Lindkvist and Emma Ahlstrom Image copyright Annis Lindkvist
Image caption Jimmy Fraser with Annis Lindkvist (L) and her sister Emma Ahlstrom in Sweden

An Edinburgh street beggar has told of the "incredible act of kindness" of two Swedish tourists who invited him to their home for Christmas.

Jimmy Fraser was begging on George Street when he was asked for directions by Annis Lindkvist and her sister Emma.

They struck up a friendship during their trip and swapped numbers before flying home to Sagmyra.

Mr Fraser told the BBC Scotland news website: "The next thing I knew I was on a plane to Sweden."

The 54-year-old said Mrs Lindkvist got him a passport and paid for his flights so he could spend a week over Christmas with her family.

Image copyright Annis Lindkvist
Image caption Mr Fraser spent a week in Sweden

Mr Fraser moved to Edinburgh 13 years ago after divorce left him homeless. He now lives in a flat.

He said the trip had been like a dream.

The former security guard and father-of-two, who is originally from Lanark, said: "It's weird, I know. I was begging on George Street and these two women came up to me and the next thing I knew I was in Sweden.

"People promise you things all the time on the street but they never materialise and friends said I shouldn't go in case I was hung, drawn and quartered when I got there.

"But I thought I'm going to go for it as its once-in-a- lifetime.

"On the plane I was so nervous and was worrying if they would be there waiting for me or if I would be shot.

"Instead it was a beautiful experience, the family was tremendous."

He added: "Annis is such a wonderful, kind and generous person and I wish everyone was like her.

"Being homeless is cold, lonely and depressing and you get a lot of abuse from people.

"This was an incredible act of kindness and I loved meeting Annis' friends, family and colleagues. I wish I was there now."

Image copyright Annis Lindkvist
Image caption Annis Lindkvist and Jimmy Fraser met after she asked him for directions while in Edinburgh

Mr Fraser flew out on 21 December and returned on 27 December. During the trip he was taken to an ice hockey match, Christmas markets, midnight mass and to meet all Mrs Lindkvist's family, friends and colleagues.

Mrs Lindkvist lives in the Swedish town of Sagmyra with her husband Daniel and three children, aged 13, eight and five.

The 37-year-old, who works in a retirement home for people with dementia, said she has been calling Mr Fraser every day since he returned to the capital.

She said: "I have never felt like this before for a homeless person. My mother was crying and crying when he left and my children have been asking every day when he is going to come back.

"There is a big place in my heart for him.

"I had had my doubts about it but I sat up late one night when he was here and spoke to him about it. I could have been a killer just like he could have been but I just had a feeling in my stomach that he was a really nice person.

"We give money to charity every month but we have never done anything like this before.

"There were friends and family who thought I was really crazy but I just opened my home to him and said everything that is ours was his too."

Mrs Lindkvist said she had invited Mr Fraser back for Easter and described him as "part of the family now".

Image copyright Annis Lindkvist
Image caption Annis Lindkvist said she Mr Fraser was now "part of the family"