28 February 2024

“A Christmas miracle”: Celebrity hairdresser reunited with stolen bag

At around 5pm on Saturday 27th November, Phil Smith, a celebrity hairdresser and the owner of Smith England salon, had his bag stolen from the passenger seat of his car in Salisbury.

Arriving back to his vehicle after a dog walk at Old Sarum, Phil found the passenger seat window of his car smashed, and his bag gone.

“It really upset me, not because of the credit cards and things, but because of all the other bits that I would miss. On my keyring I have all my marathon running chips that record your time, there was a money clip that my wife Louise bought for me for an anniversary years ago, and a picture of George when he got his first pet rabbit.

“Things like that are irreplaceable. When you get to my age things like that are the things that matter most – more than anything else,” said Phil.

Along with sentimental items, the bag contained a notebook with an entire year’s worth of work notes.

“I don’t really use a laptop for things like that so it was kind of heartbreaking,” added Phil.

After spending Saturday night trying to find the bag along Castle Road, Phil rang the bank to cancel his cards.

“When I got through to the bank they said one of them is being used at a cash point as we speak.

“We knew that they were withdrawing money on Castle Road at the Co-Op, so I was hoping that they would dump my bag up there once they realised they had no more use for it. All Saturday night and Sunday, George, Louise and I were going through the bins and parks on Castle Road but to no avail.”

Phil Smith

In an attempt to regain his sentimental items, Phil decided to put out a reward of £1000 to whoever could return the bag.

“I mentioned that my bag had been nicked on Facebook and in total we had around 400 shares. So many people that I haven’t seen or spoken to in years shared it, so there was a lot of sharing going on and that made me really happy.

“I put out a reward because you never know – someone might find it or someone might have it.”

Fast forward to Monday morning and Phil popped into Sonder Coffee while on his usual morning dog walk.

“I opened the door and they had the music on. I lost my Mum around 20 years ago, and the song that was playing was her favourite Christmas song – ‘A Winter’s Tale’ by David Essex.

“I always get little feelings like that, like my Mum’s around sometimes. I got my coffee and off I went to Elizabeth Gardens for my dog walk which I do every morning.”

While walking through Elizabeth Gardens Phil saw something on the surface of the river.

“I went over and I could see something that looked like a brown rucksack. As I looked a bit closer I saw a brass zip and I thought ‘oh my god it’s a bag’, and then I saw the rucksack handles and I thought ‘oh my god it’s my rucksack’!”

A freezing cold morning, Phil quickly rang the girls at the salon and asked them to bring some towels to Elizabeth Gardens.

“I took off my boots and socks and waded in. It was icy cold and while I was doing all this all I could think was: ‘I bet it’s just the bag and all the contents are gone’.

“I picked it up and got it back to the bench. When I opened it up my entire contents were still in there! Everything was obviously soaking wet but I found my work folder, my notepad, and my keyring with all the marathon tags on it. I had a little tear. I was so relieved that I got it all back!”

“Everything was there except my credit cards and some gift vouchers I had. My diary was also there which contains a letter from my Dad that he wrote 15 years ago, which is a significant letter in my life. I was just so over the moon.”

After being reunited with his bag through a magical stroke of luck, Phil decided to donate the reward he had offered to a worthy cause.

“My daughter Ellie suggested Louise Howard who is doing the Christmas Toy Appeal. We helped her last year with that so I decided to donate it to Louise who does a really lovely thing each year, and she was delighted with it.

Yesterday was a brilliant day, the best day ever. It just restores your faith in human nature a bit after losing all faith on Saturday night. I am so pleased Louise got the money and can buy lots of nice presents for the children because every child should receive a gift at Christmas,” concluded Phil.

To find out more about The Great Big Salisbury Christmas Toy Appeal click here.

Written by
Beth Doherty
View all articles
Written by Beth Doherty