Lonely Planet Writer

'An incredible act of kindness' - a man in need who gave two tourists directions, ended up having a holiday in Sweden

A man who was begging on the streets of Edinburgh was invited to spend Christmas in Sweden after he befriended two tourists, according to the BBC. Annis and Emma Lindkvist asked Jimmy Fraser for directions when he was begging on George Street, in the city’s New Town. They struck up a friendship and swapped numbers before the two sisters flew back to Sågmyra, in central Sweden.

Annis Lindkvist with Jimmy and her sister Emma Ahlstrom
Annis Lindkvist with Jimmy and her sister Emma Ahlstrom.  Image: courtesy of Annis Lindkvist

“It’s weird, I know,” Fraser told the BBC. “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.”  The 53-year-old, a former security guard who moved to Edinburgh 13 years ago after becoming homeless, now lives in a flat. “Being homeless is cold, lonely and depressing and you get a lot of abuse from people,” he said. “This was an incredible act of kindness and I loved meeting Annis’ friends, family and colleagues. I wish I was there now.”

The lights of Stockholm's biggest Christmas tree being switched on for the first time this year.
The lights of Stockholm’s biggest Christmas tree.  Image by Jonathan Nackstrand/Getty Images

Fraser stayed with the Lindkvists from 21 to 27 December. He went to an ice hockey match, visited Christmas markets and attended Midnight Mass. “I had had my doubts about it,” Annis Lindkvist told the BBC, “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… 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.”

Edinburgh's old town to become art gallery.
The sisters met Jimmy on Edinburgh’s streets.   Image by Kevin Gibbons / CC BY 2.0

Lindkvist said she had invited Fraser back for Easter and that he was “part of the family now”.