Message in a bottle leads to lifelong friendship across the water

54 years ago Veronica Ward put a note into an empty bottle and threw it into the North Sea. It ended up on og Ny-Hellesund, a tiny island on the south coast of Norway. Britt Pedersen, whose dad found the bottle, has come to Yorkshire this week and has brought the bottle with her.
54 years ago Veronica Ward put a note into an empty bottle and threw it into the North Sea. It ended up on og Ny-Hellesund, a tiny island on the south coast of Norway. Britt Pedersen, whose dad found the bottle, has come to Yorkshire this week and has brought the bottle with her.

When Veronica Ward threw a message in a bottle into the North Sea in 1959, she could not have expected it to lead to a lifelong friendship.

But after a journey of about 500 miles, the bottle was picked up six months later by 15-year-old Britt Pedersen on the tiny islands of Ny-Hellesund, in Norway.

54 years ago Veronica Ward put a note into an empty bottle and threw it into the North Sea. It ended up on og Ny-Hellesund, a tiny island on the south coast of Norway. Britt Pedersen, whose dad found the bottle, has come to Yorkshire this week and has brought the bottle with her.Original Ossett Observer picture.

54 years ago Veronica Ward put a note into an empty bottle and threw it into the North Sea. It ended up on og Ny-Hellesund, a tiny island on the south coast of Norway. Britt Pedersen, whose dad found the bottle, has come to Yorkshire this week and has brought the bottle with her.Original Ossett Observer picture.

And the monthly letters, photographs and birthday presents that followed the exchange were the beginning of a friendship between the two that has lasted 54 years and counting.

This month Ms Pedersen came back to visit Veronica Pawlett, of Hirstlands Avenue, in Ossett, before travelling Yorkshire to visit other friends she made as a result of the bottle’s journey.

She said: “This bottle has meant a lot to me.

“I brought it over with me because I wanted to show it to Veronica’s grandchildren, Lucas and Thalia.”

Mrs Pawlett, who was 11 when she threw the bottle into the sea at Skipsea, in East Yorkshire, said it was common for her to throw messages into the sea when she went on holiday as a child.

But she said she never expected it to blossom into an international friendship.

She said: “I didn’t expect anything to happen and couldn’t believe it when I got a letter back.

“I’ve seen Britt quite often because she has lived over here and spent some time working at a private school in Skipton.

“I’ve been to Norway twice, and Britt’s parents have come over here a few times.

“We’ve always got on, and I think it’s great that she has made so many friends over here.”

The message simply said: “Veronica Ward, aged 10, 57 The Green, Ossett, Yorkshire, England. Posted at Skipsea May 31st 1959.”

Ms Pedersen was delighted to receive it, and wrote back straight away.

She wrote: “I think it was very strange that the bottle happened to land here on this island where I am living because I always wished to write to an English girl.”