It might be in the middle of nowhere and have a population of only 20, but the South Canterbury settlement of Douglas is in line for a windfall.

Scotsman Eric Gordon Douglas has made the unusual gesture of gifting £11,000 ($25,000) each to 20 towns worldwide which share his surname.

Waimate District Council community services manager Carolyn Johns was surprised but delighted to hear the news.

"Receiving money from a namesake on the other side of the world would be quite unusual and gratefully accepted," she told the Timaru Herald.

Douglas resident Chrissy Adams said the money could be used to form a cycle or walkway along the area that was established to connect the Waihao Downs railway track to Douglas many years ago.

"It would be useful to help the wider community and the district," she said.

Douglas was officially settled in 1911.

"We're 100 in two years' time. We could have a party," said another resident, Tim Mehrtens.

He suggested the town's monument could do with a tidy-up but the wider community would have to sit down to see what everybody wanted to do with the money.