Message makes waves in Norway

Ben and Laure Goodwin with their letter from Norway.
Ben and Laure Goodwin with their letter from Norway.

A BROTHER and sister have made the headlines hundreds of miles across the North Sea after their message in a bottle was found by a Norwegian woman.

After the tale of how Lauren and Ben Goodwin launched the wine bottle from Hartlepool Marina and received a response featured in the Hartlepool Mail earlier this month, the story was picked up by Norway’s Verdengs Gang (VG) newspaper.

Journalists from the publication, which is Norway’s second-largest newspaper with a daily circulation of around 233,000 copies, contacted the Mail to find out how to get in touch with Throston Primary School pupils Lauren, eight, and five-year-old Ben and their mother, Melanie.

They interviewed the family and published their own story, headlined Posten kom sjo-veien, or “Post by sea” and begins: “Here is a rare Norwegian-English fairytale: The message in a bottle thrown into sea in Hartlepool travelled all the way over the North Sea.”

And in a remarkable twist, the article describes how Inga Lillian Reitan, 37, who found the bottle six months after the siblings launched it from the south pier at the rear of Tees and Hartlepool Yacht Club, had herself often thrown messages in bottles into the sea – without ever getting any replies.

Even her father, Nils, 72, who was with her when she found the bottle on the island of Smola, had dropped her bottled messages into the sea when he had worked as a fisherman.

She told VG: “When I was a kid, I also threw messages in bottles – without getting any replies.

“Dad even brought the message in a bottle out at sea and dropped them there to raise the chances to get replies.

“Therefore I thought that this beautiful post shall have a decent reply with a picture of me too.”

They had been searching for lost fishing equipment following a storm when they found Lauren and Ben’s message, which contained a picture Lauren had drawn and the family’s postal details.

Today Lauren and Ben’s mum Melanie, a 34-year-old University Hospital of Hartlepool radiographer from Guillemot Close, in Bishop Cuthbert, said: “I can’t believe it – we’re global stars!

“The Norwegian reporter rang me and told me they had spoken to Inga and said she was having photographs taken for an article.

“The story just gets bigger and bigger.”

Melanie, who is married to Glenn, a 34-year-old chemical plant process worker, added: “About a week ago, we sent a letter and a copy of the Mail article to Inga, along with an email address so she can contact us in a more modern way, though we haven’t heard anything yet as apparently it may take up to a week to get there.”

She added that Lauren and Ben’s grandparents, Ann, 66, and George Goodwin, 67, from the Fens Estate, who they were with when they sent off the bottle, were also excited about the story reaching Norway.