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Laura's message travels 700 miles

PUBLISHED: 14:40 17 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:41 03 March 2010

WHEN little Lauren Playford-Round cast her message in a bottle into the grey winter waves off Felixstowe, the romantic dream in her young heart was that someday someone would find it.

WHEN little Lauren Playford-Round cast her message in a bottle into the grey winter waves off Felixstowe, the romantic dream in her young heart was that someday someone would find it.

But as the weeks went by and turned into months, the plastic squash bottle was gradually forgotten.

No-one knew if it had been washed up just upcoast, stuck in the mud of the River Deben, or made it across to Holland or Belgium.

That was until the postman called with a letter for eight-year-old Lauren . . . from the Shetland Islands.

For her bottle and her message had travelled more than 700 miles north to one of the most sparsely-populated communities of the British Isles.

It landed on the spectacular beaches of the rocky outpost of Papa Stour, found washed up on the shore by a 70-year-old man at a beauty spot called Aisha.

He passed it on to his daughter Kathryn Scott, who wrote to Lauren, who lives with her mum and dad, Deborah-Ann and Steve and sister Charlie, 11, at The Josselyns, Trimley St Mary, to tell her of the bottle's journey and destination.

Kathryn, who lives in Lerwick on the main island in Shetlands, wrote: "My family also own a croft on the island of Papa Stour, which lies to the west of Shetland.

"The island is very small. There are only about 20 people who live on the island and there are no shops, just a Post Office.

"The island is very beautiful with lovely beaches, cliffs and wildlife.

"One day in August, my father, who is called Bruce, was out walking at a beautiful spot called Aisha and that is where he found your message in a bottle.

"My father is 70, and the island is where he spent his time growing up, so it was a pleasant surprise to find a message from one so young. There was no date on your message, but it has travelled well!"

She sent the Trimley St Mary Primary School pupil a brochure about Papa Stour and marked on a map the place where the bottle landed.

Lauren's father Steve said: " She was just so excited to receive a reply and to know that the bottle had been washed up somewhere.

"We were down the beach near Cobbold's Point last winter and talking about messages in bottles and Lauren asked whether she could write a message and throw it into the sea and see where it ended up.

"We did just that and I said someone someday might find it, but the best I thought would happen would that it might get across the Holland but would probably just end up going up the Deben and getting stuck in the riverbank.

"It was a great surprise to get a letter out of the blue like that and to find it had gone so far."

Papa Stour is a tiny island but of great interest to naturalists and archaeologists and popular with canoeists for its spectacular sea caves.

WEBLINKS: www.shetland.gov.uk

www.shetland-museum.org.uk

www.pages.zoom.co.uk

PAPA STOUR FILE:

n Norse name "Papey Stjora" meaning the big island of the Priests, was given to Papa Stour by the Vikings.

n Believed missionary priests of Celtic origin may have formed an isolated community, perhaps as early as the sixth or seventh century.

n By 1299 there was a Norwegian royal farm on the island.

n Until the 17th century, Papa Stour remained under the rule of the Lords of Norway despite Shetland pledged to Scotland as a royal dowry payment.

n In the 19th century the population of 360 was stabilized by the opening of the Crabbaberry fishing station.

n Now the island again in need of repopulation, numbers having sunk to around twenty once more.

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