A couple dressed as Mr and Mrs Santa Claus cycled along the prom on a tandem, handing out dozens of fivers to total strangers.

They amazed scores of onlookers with their extraordinary act of generosity on Christmas Day.

It is thought the couple gave away more than £100 as they pedalled along Brighton and Hove seafront.

Inside each card was a £5 note, a card depicting the benefactors on their tandem and the words: "Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year".

Recipients were invited to send the couple a message at their e-mail address, mrclaus@idontbelieveinsanta.com At first many people wondered whether the £5 notes were real, including one family who were handed several envelopes as they walked by.

The unexpected windfall delighted Eogan and Lynn McKenna, of Langdale Gardens, Hove, and their relatives.

Mr McKenna said: "We saw them hand out loads of envelopes, so they must have given out a fair amount of cash.

"It was a lovely thing to do and they were a lovely couple, just cycling along saying 'Merry Christmas' to everyone.

"It was a real bit of Christmas cheer and everyone was laughing and smiling."

A spokesman for the couple, who would only give his name as Bob the Elf in Charge, said they wished to remain anonymous.

He said: "I have spoken with Mr and Mrs Claus, who are away on a long-earned break as you might imagine, and I have been given strict instructions not to give out any information regarding their activities over the Christmas period."