Stunned by kindness of ‘Tony from Rochdale’
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