A man who was homeless only a few months ago was invited to Sweden for Christmas after giving two tourists directions to a pub.
Jimmy Fraser, 54, was begging on a busy street in the Scottish Capital when Swedish sisters Annis, 37, and Emma, 31, Lindqvist asked him for directions to a pub.
From that moment, an unlikely friendship blossomed, as Annis and Jimmy stayed in touch by text after swapping numbers when she returned to say goodbye.
Annis invited Jimmy home for Christmas, and even went as far as buying his tickets and sending money for a new passport to help make it happen.
Now back in the Capital, Jimmy – who moved to Edinburgh 13 years ago after a family breakdown left him homeless – said he still couldn’t believe what had happened.
“People tell you ‘See you tomorrow, I’ll get you a drink’ and then nothing happens but this did happen actually, so it was really weird.
“I told some of my friends and they went ‘No chance, it’s not going to happen’ and I went we’ll find out – if it happens, it happens.
“I got their phone number off them and texted them saying ‘hope you have a safe journey home’ and all that and ‘text me when you get there’.
“We just started texting each other since then and next thing you know I’ve got a passport in my hand and that was it, I was flying away somewhere.”
Annis lives in the Swedish town of Sågmyra with her husband Daniel and three children, aged 13, eight and five, who all welcomed Jimmy into their annual Christmas celebrations.
He watched local ice hockey team Leksands IF, went to Christmas markets and midnight mass as he was treated like one of the family.
He even tried some local cuisine in the form of elk meatballs.
Jimmy got on so well with Annis and her family that they’ve already invited him back to Sweden for Easter.
Since arriving in Edinburgh, Jimmy has found accommodation through The Ark Trust, a charity for the homeless which closed several years ago.
But he still finds it difficult to make ends meet.
Jimmy added: “People just walk past – they don’t even bother and leave you lying there whereas people like Annis will pick you up and help you.
“It was amazing, I miss them so much. If I could go back tomorrow I would.
“I think people like Annis, there should be more of them, because if it wasn’t for her I don’t know what I’d be doing.
“I’ve had two Christmas dinners this year which I’ve never had before in my life.
“It’s just really amazing, I just can’t thank them enough. It’s unreal – even though I’m back I still can’t believe it did actually happen.”
As well as his visit to Sweden, Jimmy’s encounter with Annis means he can start volunteering again as his new passport provides him with the necessary ID.
Jimmy, a dad-of-two, said it was “rare” to find someone as kind as Annis.
“She’s so kind, so considerate and I don’t know why she’s done it – I still don’t know, I really don’t, but she’s done it and it happened.
“It was a dream come true, it really was. I wasn’t expecting it.
“It was just unexpected and I’m just really glad that I was there. It was an eye opener and a good experience.
“I really had a fun time and I just can’t wait to go back at Easter.”
Recalling when they first met, Annis said: “Jimmy was sitting on some stairs and we walked by but my sister stopped and wanted to go back and sit down with him, so we did.
“We sat there for hours, got to meet the people who offer food to the homeless and just talked about life and stuff.
“We went back the last night to see if he was sitting on the same stairs again and he was.
“But I wanted to do more and I know he hasn’t spent Christmas with a family for many years, so I asked him if he wanted to come visit me and my family.”
She said: “A few [people] thought it was a bit crazy since I didn’t know him that much but when they met him they understood.
“He’s a lovely person and they all love him now.
“My youngest kid asks every day when’s he coming back – they miss him a lot.
“He is a person too, with feelings and he gets really sad when they do that.”
Annis, who works in a retirement home for people with dementia, even managed to bag Jimmy an appearance on Swedish television.
She added: “He got presents and when he went back home we had gotten a big suitcase that weighed 18kg with clothes and things that my friends and family had got him.
“I’m never letting him go – he’s a part of our family now.”