WWII refugee who made Edinburgh his home honoured in new Christian Aid animation

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For five decades he worked tirelessly to run a trio of successful shoe repair businesses after arriving in the Capital as a refugee in 1947.


Theodor Davidovic in the 1940s. Picture; contributed

Theodor Davidovic in the 1940s. Picture; contributed

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Now 92-year-old Theodor Davidovic’s incredible story has been transformed into a powerful animated film as the charity which helped him in his hour of need marks its 60th anniversary.

And to make the film even more special, Christian Aid asked Theodor himself to narrate his journey, something the pensioner admitted made him feel like “a film star”.

Orphaned as a child in his home country of Serbia, the film details how Theodor was sold into domestic service, eventually joining the resistance movement to fight against Germany.

Theo ran a business for 50 years in Edinburgh.

Theo ran a business for 50 years in Edinburgh.

After the war he found himself in refugee camps in Italy and Germany, but never forgot the food packages he received from the charity.

Having escaped the camps aged 22, Theodor found his way to Scotland, initially working as a coal miner before he met his future wife, Betty, in a dance hall in Kirkcaldy.

The couple went on to marry in 1953 and lived in the Capital for the following six years, during which time Theodor become a familiar face in the community thanks to his three shoe repair shops at Meadowbank, Restalrig Road and Easter Road.

Eventually moving back to Fife, where Betty is from, Theodor continued to commute to his Edinburgh cobblers for 50 years before retiring at the age of 76 to become Betty’s full-time carer.

Theodor said he was still grateful to this day for the sanctuary and safety Scotland had provided, saying his life in the country “couldn’t have been happier”.

Commenting on his voiceover debut, he said: “We’ve had a giggle or two. I say to Betty that she’s married to a film star! The rest of my family haven’t seen the film yet but I’m looking forward to showing it to them.”

Over the years Theodor has held dozens of events to raise funds for Christian Aid, admitting he “feels he owes his life to the cause” and he is now calling on others to get involved.

He added: “I appeal to all the Christians: your Christianity is not only to come and pray and sing hymns.

“It is to put your belief in actions – helping somebody that needs your help and showing love and compassion to the wider world.

“When I was walking in the world as a refugee, there was at least peace in the world but now there is war and it is not people’s fault that they are refugees.”

Sally Foster-Fulton, head of Christian Aid Scotland, said: “Theodor’s lifelong commitment to loving his neighbour is an inspiration to us all and on this 60th anniversary of Christian Aid Week we celebrate all the people who make our vital work possible.

“There is so much work still to do. Millions of people still have no safe place to call home, forced into conflict, danger and persecution.

“This Christian Aid Week we invite people, everyone, to join us, standing in solidarity and support with refugees and those living in poverty.”