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Find the original article on the Telegraph website
By Andrew Hough
A real-life Father Christmas has left shoppers in a Devon village bewildered after he secretly handed out £50 notes in a local supermarket.
The generous man, who has not been identified, secretly slotted the cash-filled envelopes into customers' shopping baskets, complete with letters wishing them a Merry Christmas before swiftly disappearing.
It is understood that at least 12 people, including a retired couple, were the lucky targets of the Good Samaritan in the days leading up to Christmas.
The “grey haired” benefactor, who is thought to be aged in his 30s or 40s, became the real life Father Christmas as he walked through the crowded aisles of a Tesco store in Sampford Peverell.
After shocked customers initially thought it was an in-store promotion, many locals are now convinced the series of events was a genuine attempt at kindheartedness.
Tesco officials are now trawling internal CCTV footage in an effort to identify the man.
According to locals who received the envelope, it came with a message which read: "Happy Christmas. I have recently been fortunate enough to have come into quite a lot of money – more than I need for myself and my family.
"So I thought that I would share some of it with other people – the £50 enclosed is for you. I hope this enables you to have a little extra cheer this Christmas.
"You do not have to do anything other than spend the money – and it is real, there is no trick, no hidden cameras or catch. Just have a happy Christmas."
The elderly couple, who did not want to be identified, thought they were the victims of a practical joke. They took the note to their bank, where its authenticity was verified and it was changed for lower denominations.
The couple, both retired teachers, said the man moved quickly and as a result did not have time to stop and ask him what was in the envelope.
The husband, who is in his eighties, said: "He just smiled, wished us a merry Christmas and was on his way.
"I am sure he was giving out other envelopes and it's such an incredible gesture. The envelope was blank and we nearly threw it away, but I am glad we didn't.
"You don't really expect supermarket shopping in the run-up to Christmas to be such a wonderful experience."
His wife, who is in her seventies, said: "We are hugely grateful to this man for such a lovely gift, it's not just about the money, it just made us feel that there are people out there who are genuinely good and selfless, and realise there is more to life than money."
They spent the money on their groceries and said it made a real difference to their festivities.
Luke Davies, duty manager at the Tesco superstore, said the mystery benefactor had made quite an impression. While he was not on duty several staff mentioned it to him.
“They said a mystery man had been handing out cash and some were joking they wished he’d handed some to them," he said.
“Nobody seems to know a lot about who it was but several customers seem to have mentioned him handing out envelopes.
“I don’t know why he would do it but if it’s what it appears to be it’s a very generous thing to do.”
Thursday, 29th December 2011