A London pub manager went above and beyond to reunite someone with their Christmas pay packet filled with cash, even saying he would keep searching "if it kills me". The power of social media made for a happy ending.
Mick Dore, manager of The Alexandra in Wimbledon, spent almost a week desperately trying to reunite Mariusz, a Polish building trade worker, with his pay packet containing "quite a lot of money". The envelope "stuffed with cash" was found in the pub after he enjoyed a night out with colleagues on Thursday 21 December.
A tweet posted on Friday gained more than 22,000 retweets. It read: "Somebody lost their Crimbo wage packet in here last night. We found it, and we've got it. Let us know the name on the front, how much, and which bar it was in, and it's yours. Please RT so we can get this fella his Christmas wages back."
Dore soon revealed the name to be Mariusz in the hope it would help track him down, which it did - but not until Wednesday afternoon (27 December).
Speaking just hours before Mariusz walked into the pub and claimed his money, Dore told IBTimes UK: "I honestly thought I would find him in about 15 minutes and that would be that but he didn't materialise and then it got retweeted by JK Rolwing and stuff and it went global," adding that he received messages from as far afield as Australia, Canada and the US.
"Once the ball started rolling I've got to find him now. I'm all in. I'm now determined to find the guy if it's the last thing I do." He added that he did not expect any reward.
Mariusz had gone to Poland for Christmas, where the appeal spread around the country "like wildfire" in an attempt to find him. Eventually, his son saw it on social media and said: "Could this be you dad?"
A euphoric Dore revealed that Mariusz had not told his wife he lost the money, saying: "I didn't want the stress over Christmas." The builder also left a "hefty" tip for Andrew Ratcliffe, the staff member who found the money in the first place.
Dore called him a "brilliant bloke" and tweeted: "We just want to say a HUUUUGE thank-you to everyone who tweeted it, retweeted it, translated it, put zeds into etc. We never had one single fraudulent claim (a couple of jokey ones only) and Mariusz's son SAW IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA, could this be you Dad?'. You did it people!!!"
The search for Mariusz had become increasingly desperate on Twitter and Facebook over the course of almost a week. On Christmas Eve, The Alex's Twitter account said: "It's getting annoying now!! Mariusz where are you mate? We've got a big wadge of cash waiting for you, if he's gone back to Poland someone still knows him. He was in the Alex on THURSDAY night, probably on a works do. Who is he?"
On Boxing Day, the pub tried again with another tweet which said: "Mariusz, we found your pay packet in the Alex on Thursday night (21st December). It's stuffed full of cash, you haven't lost it, we've got it! If anybody knows probably a Polish man called Mariusz, near Wimbledon, it could be him. Please tell him! RT in Polish if you know any."
It was a busy week for The Alexandra, as they also hosted their annual free Christmas dinner for people who would otherwise have spent the day alone, serving up 62 three-course meals for people from a huge age range, including around 15 to 20 people under 30. One man in particular was driven to tears after spending 16 consecutive Christmases alone.
Dore said: "It's been pretty full-on but there is a lot of goodwill around at this time of year, everyone's been really keen to help us find this bloke. Finding this pay packet would make it the best Christmas ever."