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Rainham woman lifts lid on 36-year friendship with German family - started by a message in a bottle

PUBLISHED: 12:31 21 November 2013 | UPDATED: 12:48 21 November 2013

Eileen & Noel Drew

Eileen & Noel Drew

Archant

A message in a bottle sent off the coast of Germany in 1977 has amazingly led to a 36-year friendship between two families.

The Drew family, of Rainham, and the Granditzki family, of Kronsgaard, North Germany, struck up a relationship after 10-year-old Richard Drew dropped a letter into the North Sea off Germany, during a family holiday.

Richard, his brother Peter and parents Eileen and Noel were amazed when they received a reply in the post later that year from Anja Granditzki, also aged 10.

She had discovered the bottle on the Isle of Sylt and her parents, Elke and Manfred, encouraged her to write back.

Little did they know - these early novelty letters would lead to them keeping in touch to this day, and even holidaying together.

“We received the first letter just before Christmas that year,” said Eileen, 70,

“It said ‘Happy Christmas, we have found you’, we were amazed.

“Richard and Anja wrote to each - they were the same age and shared interests – but I think it was the novelty of corresponding with someone in another country that he liked.”

The children spoke a different language, but that wasn’t an issue according to Eileen, who contacted the Recorder after reading last week’s story about a message in a bottle, sent from Germany and discovered in Rainham Marshes.

She joked: “Richard’s German wasn’t great, but Anja’s English was fantastic.”

Photographs were exchanged and the two families sent Christmas presents, before they finally met five years later.

“We visited their house in Bremen. We stayed with Anja and her parents and had a lovely time,” said Eileen.

Over the years, the families have continued to visit each other, and Anja and her two children have stayed with the Drew’s at their home in Fairview Avenue, Rainham.

Eileen added: “Anja likes to come over and see the sights in London, and the family came over to our 25th wedding anniversary too.”

Just last month Eileen and Noel, 71, visited the family in Kronsgaard, staying with Elke and Manfred.

“We love going over there,” admits Eileen, “if we could go back tomorrow, we would.”

To read last week’s story about the message in a bottle found at Rainham Marshes, click the link to the right of the article.

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