Page last updated at 15:01 GMT, Thursday, 21 August 2008 16:01 UK

Message bottle found 23 years on

Message written 25 years ago
The note urges the finder to pass it to a "similar aged boy"

A man who threw a message in a bottle into the sea when he was a child has been reunited with it 23 years on.

Donald Wylie, then aged 11, tossed the bottle into the water at Sandside beach, Deerness, on Orkney in 1985.

It was found during a summer beach clean-up on West Sands, St Andrews, Fife, and a search was launched to try to track down the sender.

He was eventually traced back to Orkney and was invited to St Andrews to see where the bottle ended up.

The clean-up was being carried out by a group of eco-volunteers who managed to fill 77 black bags with rubbish.

Students and staff from the University of St Andrews were among the clean-up crew and they have been involved in tracking Mr Wylie down.

Now aged 33, Mr Wylie said his mother had encouraged him to throw bottles into the sea as a child - something which he continues to do with his own children.

Although she penned the letter, it was done in Mr Wylie's name but with his mother writing his sister's year of birth on the note rather than his own.

Bottle handed back to owner
Finder Mary Stevens hands the bottle back to its owner
He said: "Over the years I have had a few replies, usually from Norway or Denmark.

"I have never had one from St Andrews and never one that has taken this long to wash up."

The bottle was handed back by Mary Stevens, the beach clean volunteer who discovered it in the sand.

Roddy Yarr, from University of St Andrews, who organised the event, said: "The message in a bottle was really quite a find and surprised us all and we're delighted to be able to reunite the owner with this piece of history.

"It really is quite remarkable that the bottle should be found after all this time - who knows where it has travelled to in the last quarter of a century."

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