Bexhill girl receives surprise reply to message in a bottle

Roxanne and Bill Smith with children Elin, Billy, Alexa, Jesse and Frankie.
Roxanne and Bill Smith with children Elin, Billy, Alexa, Jesse and Frankie.

A 12-year-old girl from Bexhill has made an international penpal after her message in a bottle was found by a kind-hearted woman in Canada.

Twelve-year-old Alexa Smith had sent the message while out with her family in Cooden Beach in October 2016. The then 10-year-old signed and dated the message, adding her phone number and address and asking for whoever found it to get in touch.

At the time Alexa’s mum Roxanne thought the activity would be a fun way to occupy her and her boyfriend’s young children – two girls and three boys – and says she never expected to receive a reply.

In fact she had almost completely forgotten about the messages when a piece of Canadian-marked airmail was posted through her letterbox last week.

Roxanne said: “It’s incredible. We never expected anything like this.

“This lady in Canada had written back, and it had Alexa’s original message in the envelope.

“She wrote this lovely letter saying, ‘I hope you have half as much adventure as this message did’.

“Sadly she didn’t include a return address, I think it was just a lady wanting to do a nice thing for a young kid.

“Alexa loves it. It’s her prized possession now.”

According to the letter, Alexa’s message had made it as far as Halifax, Nova Scotia – a city on a peninsula on the east coast of Canada near to the USA border. Over the two years the bottle had travelled a staggering 2,915 miles as the crow flies.

It was found there by a woman named Caitlin who wrote a postcard back.

She wrote: “It was so lovely to hear from you and your family. What a great letter!

“What a long journey it had been on to get to me. I can only hope you also get to have amazing travels and adventures too!

“I bet you couldn’t imagine when you threw your bottle into the sea that it would sail so far!”

On the same day as Alexa threw her bottle into the sea her brothers – 14-year-old Jesse, 10-year-old Frankie and eight-year-old Billy – also sent messages out to sea.

While one of the boys’ bottles has already been found (washing ashore near to Bexhill and being found by a family friend soon after it was sent) two of the bottles are still unaccounted for.

“Maybe we’ll get another message in a few more years,” Roxanne jokes.