Stunned by kind­ness of ‘Tony from Rochdale’

Rochdale Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

A MYS­TE­RI­OUS man has fully em­braced the spirit of Christ­mas, gen­er­ously bring­ing joy to ran­dom strangers with en­velopes of cash.

But who is Santa’s anony­mous helper?

The man only iden­ti­fied him­self as ‘Tony from Rochdale’ af­ter hand­ing Phil Swift and his fam­ily an en­ve­lope with a Christ­mas let­ter and £60 in cash while they were vis­it­ing Manch­ester Christ­mas Mar­kets on Satur­day, Novem­ber 17.

Lorry driver and ex-ser­vice­man Phil, 38, con­tacted the Observer to say the enig­matic stranger – who was in his 40s or 50s, wear­ing a smart coat and a Peaky Blin­ders-style hat – left him welling-up with tears af­ter the kind gesture.

Notic­ing a num­ber of other en­velopes in the man’s pocket, Phil sus­pects his fam­ily were not the only ones to meet ‘Tony.’

The dad-of-four from Sh­effield, who was in town with his wife Ch­eryl and their chil­dren, said: “He asked us if we had found it stress­ful with the kids at the Christ­mas Mar­ket, that we looked like a re­ally nice fam­ily and if he could give us a Christ­mas gift.

“We looked at each other, smil­ing – we pre­sumed he would be pro­mot­ing a re­li­gious group or some­thing like that.”

The man handed Phil an en­ve­lope con­tain­ing the let­ter and three £20 notes which, he says, left him on the verge of tears at the stranger’s kind­ness – an un­usual oc­cur­rence, ac­cord­ing to the vet­eran of the Iraq and Afghanistan con­flicts.

The let­ter, signed from W&T, said: “Hello...our mis­sion is sim­ple. We want to spread a lit­tle cheer this Christ­mas.

“We aren’t rich, but we’ve been for­tu­nate in many ways and we ac­cept we have more than many.

“You likely re­ceived this gift be­cause we wit­nessed an act of kind­ness. It may have been to strangers, to your kids or even your part­ner. We like that!

“Merry Christ­mas from W&T.”

Phil, who fol­lowed the man and his wife into Boots on Mar­ket Street, added: “I saw him stand­ing there with his wife and I just hugged him and he hugged me back. I was welling up, it was an emo­tional mo­ment.”

“[The man] knew noth­ing about me or my fam­ily – he didn’t know us or how much of a tough time we’ve been through as a fam­ily – it was a re­ally lovely thing to do.

“I un­der­stand he didn’t do it for any so­cial recog­ni­tion and it was just a kind gesture from a some­one with a big heart but I need to say a heart-felt thank you.

“It doesn’t mat­ter if it was £10 or £1,000 – it’s the gesture that counts.”

The man’s kind­ness has even in­spired Phil to ‘pay it for­ward’ – where re­cip­i­ents of a good deed re­pay to oth­ers, rather than the orig­i­nal bene­fac­tor.

He said: “It’s made me want to do the same thing – I was in McDon­ald’s on Mon­day and paid for the car be­hind me and told the girl at the win­dow just to wish them a Merry Christ­mas.”

●●Ch­eryl and Phil Swift with chil­dren Con­nor, 9, Isla, 5, Erin, 3, and Ciara, 4 months

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.