Message in a bottle full of post-Covid wishes washes up on Norfolk beach

Lee Staff finds message in a bottle in Gorleston

Lee Staff with his dog Nelson who found multiple messages in a bottle which had travelled on the high seas for 12 days. He said the discovery had lifted spirits here and across the North Sea. - Credit: Lee Staff

A Norfolk lifeboatman has found a bottle containing messages of hope for a post-Covid world - and plans to relaunch it with good wishes from this county.

Lee Staff was walking along the beach at Gorleston when his dog Nelson made the discovery as he snuffled about the sands.

The 51-year-old said the find was the stuff of boyhood dreams such was his excitement, the handwritten notes fluttering all over the beach when he opened the jar sending him running about to collect them all.

Messages in a bottle found by Lee Staff in Gorleston

Some of the messages in the sealed jam jar that washed up on Gorleston beach and were found by Lee Staff and his dog Nelson. - Credit: Lee Staff

He said: "I was walking Nelson along the beach which has been torn up a bit after the storms.

"He starts scratching and digging and lo and behold it is the jam jar.

"I was really excited, it was like being a kid again.

Jar full of messages travels from Holland to Gorleston

The jar full of messages wishing for health and happiness and to be able to dance again sent across the sea by kindergarten staff in Holland, and found by Lee Staff and his dog Nelson in Gorleston. - Credit: Lee Staff

"I opened it and all the papers flew out and I had to chase them around the beach."

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At home in Belton, Mr Staff, who is helmsman of the Great Yarmouth and Gorleston inshore lifeboat, said he rang the overseas number provided and at first the lady was wary.

But within minutes there was a whole hullabaloo of whoops and shrieking as a group of women, who turned out to kindergarten staff in Helmond, Holland, realised their bottle had been found.

Messages of hope sent by nursery staff in a bottle launched in the sea

Cheering messages of hope for a post-Covid world fluttered all over the beach when Lee Staff opened a jam jar his dog Nelson found on the storm-stripped beach at Gorleston. - Credit: Lee Staff

"I spoke to a lady called Jenny," Mr Staff said, "And she runs a kindergarten.

"All the girls have been going through Covid and they all got themselves a bit low and they decided they would do a load of wishes for the coming year, put them in a jar, and see if someone found it.

"If someone did they thought maybe their wishes would come true."

Kindergarten staff who sent messages in a jam jar across the sea

Staff from the Kinderopvang de Sleutal pre-school in Helmond, The Netherlands, who were thrilled to discover their messages sent across the sea in a jam jar had been picked up by Lee Staff in Gorleston. - Credit: Kinderopvang de Sleutal

Mr Staff, who has three sons Mackenzie, Macey and Maddox with wife Leesa, also runs a haulage company.

Because he couldn't understand the messages he contacted a Dutch customer who was able to translate.

The messages wished for health and happiness, and to go dancing he said, as the ladies hankered after ordinary freedoms they had been denied.

The jar had been launched 12 days before he found it from Scheveningen in The Netherlands - a port-to-port distance of around 252km.

In the spirit of their endeavour he now plans to contact a similar nursery or pre-school setting to ask staff there to write their wishes.

The plan then was to re-launch the bottle from the lifeboat while on exercise and see where it turned up next.