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The identity of the mother who was nicknamed the ‘Elmswell Elf’ after secretly leaving Christmas presents on the doorsteps of 220 homes has been revealed.
Tanya Utting, 37, from Elmswell in Suffolk, bought gifts and distributed them to ‘spread love and a bit of happiness’ in random acts of Christmas kindness.
She crept out almost every night after 10pm during December and left flowers, plant bulbs and chocolates along with pictures from unsigned Christmas cards on doorsteps.
Tesco worker Tanya kept her identity a secret while residents were left guessing about who was leaving the presents in her home village of Elmswell.
Tanya Utting, 37, from Elmswell in Suffolk, pictured with her seven-year-old daughter Tilly, bought gifts and distributed them to ‘spread love and a bit of happiness’ in random acts of Christmas kindness
She was very nearly rumbled when one resident got footage of her on a doorbell camera and posted it on the local Facebook page.
But Tanya could not be recognised in the video, other than by a handful of close friends who agreed to share her secret.
Last week, she even appeared on ITV’s This Morning where she was interviewed by Vernon Kay and Rochelle Humes while wearing a wig and keeping her back to the camera so nobody would know who she was.
At first, the idea was to leave presents for elderly residents in sheltered bungalows near her home, after hearing that they had been plagued by anti-social behaviour.
And on December 1, the pensioners were delighted to find their surprise gifts of bulbs and potted plants.
From then on, the idea snowballed and Tanya was joined by her supervisor at Tesco who helped donate goods for her to hand out anonymously.
She was very nearly rumbled when one resident got this footage of her on a doorbell camera and posted it on the village’s Facebook page
She was also helped by her seven-year-old daughter Tilly.
Tanya, who finished her deliveries on December 23, said: ‘I would just pick a street and parked up somewhere I could not be seen.
‘I choses houses at random and they would get a gift.
‘I started at the beginning of the village and worked my way through every street.
‘I moved on to chocolate as treats for children, and a couple of my friends who were in on it would let me know which houses had children so I could visit them.
‘I popped into the local Co-op a couple of times and I could hear people talking about the Elmswell Elf and wondering who she was, so I kept my mouth shut.
‘Some of the doorbell footage showed me in my distinctive bobble hat so I had to stop wearing it on the school run in case anyone recognised it.
Luckily, Tanya could not be recognised in the video, other than by a handful of close friends who agreed to share her secret so her identity stayed under wraps
‘I just wanted to brighten people up, especially elderly residents.
‘I wanted to make them feel special.
‘It was amazing to read all the feedback on the village Facebook page.
‘People felt so touched that they had received a gift and didn’t know where it had come from.
‘I decided to out myself in time for Christmas, and I hope to deliver gifts again next year, although it will no longer be in secret.
‘If I could deliver a gift to every house in the village I would, but it’s just impossible – there are so many houses in the village now.’
The 37-year-old added that her daughter, Tilly, has been ‘amazing’: ‘What a little helper.
‘She never said a word to anybody even when I was waiting to do the drop off at school and people were quizzing me.
The 37-year-old mother pictured with daughter, Tilly, seven, has been revealed as the ‘Elmswell Elf’, and during her stint as Santa’s little helper, she was asked to appear on ITV’s This Morning
‘She just stood there completely poker faced and did not let on anything.’
Tanya’s welder husband Richard, 43, said: ‘I just told Tanya that she should just go for it if that is what she wanted to do.’
The surprise presents included poinsettias, amaryllis, hyacinth bulbs, potted plants and ceramic houses with plants inside.
Tanya’s chocolate gifts included Kit Kat Santas, Malteser Reindeers and Dairy Milk Snowmen.
She said she was shocked to get a call inviting her on to ITV’s This Morning programme, and thought it was a villager winding her up.
But she added: ‘They agreed I could I wear a silver wig, have my back to the camera, and to disguise my voice
‘I never thought it would get to that level and was a bit overwhelmed.
‘There was lots of talk in the village after that about who the Elf was. People at work also wondered why I was buying so many things.’