Social media finds Wallog bottle message sender 'in minutes'
A woman who found a message in a bottle on a Ceredigion beach was "amazed" when she located its Irish sender within just four minutes.
Sara McAleese found the bottle on Wallog beach, near Aberystwyth, and posted a photograph online.
Within minutes she was contacted by a man who said a member of his family, nine-year-old Olivia from Arklow, had sent the message.
She has returned the letter and some Aberystwyth memorabilia to Olivia.
Ms McAleese, who collects litter as she goes to keep beaches clean, initially thought it was just another plastic bottle but noticed it had some paper inside.
"I just thought, 'oh my gosh it's a message in a bottle', you hear stories and think 'does anyone ever do that these days?'
"I fished it out and it was a little bit damp and had obviously been lightened by the sun, but I could just about pick out it was from an Olivia and she was nine, and half the address.
"There was also a little packet of sweeties in there."
Ms McAleese, a midwife in Powys, posted the photograph on a social media page dedicated to items lost at sea - and said usually finders are not reunited with senders.
But she said within four minutes she received contact from Olivia's family.
"I was just blown away. I put it up because I expected somebody would be able to complete the address and then I would send them a postcard, but to make immediate contact with the family, I was amazed.
"Olivia's dad sent me a picture of her saying she's really excited. I sent her back the note and the sweeties, and a glittery pen and stick of rock from Aberystwyth."
Ms McAleese said she was particularly surprised as her partner participated in the Celtic Challenge two weeks prior - making the same journey from Arklow the bottle had made.
Some of Olivia's friends also sent bottles and Ms McAleese encouraged people to pick up litter as "fab and fun" things can be found.
She said: "I think anyone who uses our beaches at all is aware that there's a massive amount of rubbish which is predominantly plastic.
"Anywhere you go, you can just stop and pick up rubbish and recycling. Sometimes it really is rubbish, but it does give back and sometimes you can find great things."
Ms McAleese, who recycled the bottle, will be taking part in a UK-wide two-minute beach clean on Sunday - where participants clean their local beach for two minutes and then post a photograph of the results on social media under the hashtag #2minutebeachclean.
"If everyone who went to the beach picked up one thing, we'd have much less of a problem," she added.