Dalai Lama shines on sodden arrival in Edinburgh

HE was greeted by wild, wet and typically Scottish weather, but that didn’t stop the Dalai Lama spending time with well-wishers as he arrived in the Capital at the start of his Scottish visit.

Among those gathering to welcome the Tibetan spiritual leader outside the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel yesterday afternoon were the Lord Provost and city business chiefs.

Members of Scotland’s Tibetan community, who repeated their call for a meeting between the Dalai Lama and First Minister Alex Salmond, were also in the crowds.

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The Dalai Lama is due to spend two days in Scotland and will today present the inaugural Evening News-backed Youth Compassion Award to 17-year-old Edinburgh teenager Heather Mann.

The honour is in recognition of her fundraising and volunteer work for organisations such as the Salvation Army and schizophrenia charity Support in Mind.

He will also hold a private viewing of archive material about Tibet at the National Library and deliver a talk about world ethics at the Usher Hall.

Before he entered the hotel yesterday, the Dalai Lama spent a few minutes chatting to well-wishers.

“He asked us not to stay in the cold too long,” said Linda Hendry, 62, who lives near the Meadows. “Even during a major state visit, he was thinking of our welfare.

“He gives off an aura that you sense immediately.”

Changchub Mermesel, chair of the Tibetans in Scotland Community, said: “I would really like Alex Salmond to visit His Holiness. If David Cameron can meet him, why not Alex Salmond?

“It’s very disappointing as we are looking to Alex Salmond to champion the cause of suffering nations. The Dalai Lama is an example of how you can resolve political tensions through non-violent means and we should be rushing to support that.”

Annie Greiffenberg, 24, a graphic designer from Zimbabwe who moved to the Capital just over a month ago in search of work, said: “He embodies all the qualities of a compassionate human being and you really believe what he says about compassion and peace.”

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Greg Forbes, 42, a police officer from Kinross who travelled to Edinburgh to welcome the Dalai Lama with his daughter, Tegan, 11, said: “He’s one of the most compassionate individuals in the world. He’s an old man and yet he has this timeless quality about him.”

Kwik Fit founder Sir Tom Farmer, who was also in the crowd, said: “With him, you go back to the excitement of being a young school kid – that’s how I felt today.

“There are people in the world who have a great impact on us, people who have a certain amount of spirituality about them, and he’s one of those people.”

Lord Provost Donald Wilson said: “It was great honour to welcome His Holiness.”