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Festive forgiveness as apologetic thieves return Santa decoration stolen from London Tavern in Poulner two years ago

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SOME Christmas magic came to a pub near Ringwood after a two-year wait when repentant thieves returned a Santa Claus decoration they had stolen.

Landlord Phil Hoyle was astonished to find the 12in jolly Saint Nick waiting for him, complete with an apology note, when he arrived to open the London Tavern in Linford Road, Poulner.

As reported in the A&T, the ornament, wearing a Christmas jumper and carrying presents and a pair of skis, was taken from a window sill inside the multi-award-winning hostelry during the night of 12th December 2019.

Phil Hoyle with the returned Santa
Phil Hoyle with the returned Santa

At the time, Phil believed the theft was a misguided joke by one of his customers as he appealed for the person responsible to “show some Christmas spirit” and return it.

The note seemed to confirm this theory, saying: “Sorry we stole the Father Christmas two years ago. We had drunk too much.”

Phil had almost given up hope of seeing the Santa again when he was reunited with it – none the worse for wear for its two years in the wrong hands.

Forgiving the anonymous offender, he said they would be welcomed back at the pub as long as they did not help themselves to possessions that do not belong to them.

“We are delighted he’s been returned and thank those who walked off with him for bringing him back,” Phil said.

It was accompanied by an apology note
It was accompanied by an apology note

“We had got him to promote our Alpine Bar which we ran that year and he really did light up children’s faces.”

The theft came exactly six months after alcohol was stolen in a raid on the pub’s cellar in June 2019.

Phil and his wife Sarah Williams have run the London Tavern for over three years, during which time it was named Best Newcomer in the prestigious national Ei Group Awards.

“This Christmas we are delighted to be open properly after all the Covid restrictions and have great beer, great food and great entertainment,” he continued.

“The decorations are up, the log fire is on and our Santa is back above the bar where he belongs.

“Those who took him are forgiven and they are welcome back as long as they drink as much as they did on the night of the crime – and leave all our decorations alone.”

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