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Leisha Barnard from Sheerness on BBC's The One Show with Davina McCall, Sir John Major and the Manic Street Preachers

By Lewis Dyson

An Islander shared airtime with a former prime minister when she graced BBC’s The One Show to tell her remarkable message in a bottle story.

Leisha Barnard appeared on the programme yesterday which also featured Sir John Major, presenter Davina McCall, comedian Arthur Smith and the Manic Street Preachers.

The Medway Road, Sheerness, resident was there to speak about the message in a bottle she threw into the Thames Estuary when she was eight-years-old in 1998.

Leisha Barnard with Joriam Jubbega and comedian Arthur Smith outside the BBC studios
Leisha Barnard with Joriam Jubbega and comedian Arthur Smith outside the BBC studios

In December we reported how it had been picked up by an 11-year-old named Joriam Jubbega on the island of Texel in the Netherlands, where tons of flotsam and jetsam washes up every day.

He tried writing back at the time but water had blurred some of the address so it was never delivered.

Nonetheless, he kept the original for 15 years and late last year he decided to find her on Facebook and finally sent a reply.

A BBC television crew filmed segments with Miss Barnard, 23, on Sheppey, including on the spot in Sheerness beach where she threw the bottle into the sea, and also with Mr Jubbega, 26, in Holland.

Leisha Barnard with Joriam Jubbega
Leisha Barnard with Joriam Jubbega

The pen pals met for the first time on live television in what Mr Smith called, “the most terrifying first date you could ever possibly be on”.

Miss Barnard said: “I was nervous when I first got there but I was fine after a bit. It was weird being there. The actual studio is tiny and there were people running around everywhere.

“As soon as the cameras stopped there were loads of people moving around and picking things up.

“It was strange meeting Joriam. I was really embarrassed. We had to meet live on TV it was weird. We were going to say hello beforehand to still our nerves but they literally kept us apart.”

She had a picture with Mr Jubbega afterwards and they plan to keep in touch but only as friends - Miss Barnard has a boyfriend.

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