An unlikely friendship has been struck up between a Carrick schoolgirl and a craftswoman in Scotland after a message in a bottle bobbed hundreds of miles across the north Atlantic Ocean.
Chloe McCormick said she was “bored” one day last November and decided she would put an open letter in a plastic bottle and drop it into the water off Torr Head on the off-chance it may reach someone.
Almost exactly two months later the 11-year-old was somewhat surprised to find a package at her grandmother’s house, whose address she had given for the recipient to make contact.
Annie Tempest, who lives on the Isle of Lewis more than 200 miles away, was walking her dog along Galson Beach on the Galson Estate with her partner a few weeks ago when they came across the bottle with the letter inside.
Chloe said she had almost forgotten about the bottle when the surprise package arrived out of the blue.
“I was really happy and it was very nice of Annie to write to me,” said the Ulidia Integrated pupil.
Chloe’s stepfather Roy Willighan said he and her mother Gillian had no idea Chloe had sent the message and were shocked when she returned home with the postal package last month.
“We just thought, ‘Wow, this is amazing’,” said the 38- year-old broadcaster.
“For it to travel all that way, when it easily could have washed back up on the shore again is really something.
“I think we were actually more excited and fascinated by the whole thing than Chloe was,” he laughed.
The letter Chloe had placed inside the bottle arrived in good condition and Annie said she was amazed to have stumbled across it.
“I have never found anything like this before and was really excited to find it,” she told the News Letter from her home in Stornoway.
Annie used the more traditional method of postage to send Chloe some gifts and information about the Isle of Lewis, along with her letter explaining how happy she had been to receive the message.
Roy then tracked Annie down on Facebook, where he replied to a post she had uploaded about her excitement at finding the bottle.
People who read the post said the find was “fantastic, wonderful, brilliant and interesting”.
Now Chloe has sent a letter and some information about the Antrim Coast in reply – tempting her new Scottish pen pal to make a trip to Northern Ireland.
“It’s lovely having some contact with Chloe’s family through social media sites,” said Annie. “I’ve received a lovely parcel of books and pamphlets and a tea towel all about the Antrim Coast.
“She’s also sent me a lovely handwritten letter.
“I’ve never been to Northern Ireland and this is now the perfect excuse to make plans to explore that part of the world.”