27 March 2018

Tossed out to sea on the secluded shores of Mothecombe Beach in South Devon, a letter, rolled up and enclosed in a glass bottle read:

“Dear David — you have been a driving force in the lives of others, and a clear inspiration to many. Keep trekking and keep smiling.”

A letter from South Devon, UK
A message in a bottle: from South Devon, UK

What sounded like a heartfelt personal tribute from a close friend of David Minn’s, was in fact from a group of people who had never met him before.

You have been a driving force in the lives of others.

Stacey, Emma, Simon and Emily are some of hundreds of people who’ve been inspired by the adventurous spirit of a young man they never met, to pay tribute to him in this touching way.

Their message in a bottle, sent to sea from the Devon coastline, is one of many glass bottles that could be making their way around the world in memory of 24-year old David, who died in a hiking accident while traveling the world.

His older sister, Hayley, and a few of David’s closest friends created this virtual adventure to celebrate his memory and have invited lots of strangers to join in.

David Minn in Peru
David in all his glory, Machu Picchu, Peru

Young, happy and spontaneous, David, from London had a curious mind, and a fearless heart. He had recently graduated with a masters degree in aerospace engineering from Sheffield University, and took a year out in pursuit of an adventure, making new friends everywhere he went.

He never had a bad word to say about anyone.

His love for people and places was reflected in his zest for life, and caring nature.

“He just loved to travel and live life to the full,” said Hayley, a celebrity journalist.

“He never ever had a bad word to say about anyone, and lived life to the full in his work, travel, parties and relationships.”

The Minn's
The Minn's

When Hayley thinks back to her favourite memories of her younger brother, she remembers good times partying with him until the sun came up.

In an exciting, eight-month expedition David had been to Ecuador, Cuba, Brazil, Chile and Argentina following a two-month Summer stint at Camp America in Boston — where he worked for a third year.

Sadly, his trip-of-a-lifetime ended too soon. David died in a climbing accident on January 25, 2018 while hiking near Argentina's Esmeralda Lagoon, just three weeks before he was due to fly home to his family in the UK.

Bottle released for David just outside Dubai
Bottle released for David just outside Dubai

“The day he died, the police came to our house and told mum the news. She said she knew straight away, because they took their hats off,” Hayley said.

In a freak accident, David had fallen nearly 100 feet from a cliff close to the Ojo de Albino glacier in Tierra del Fuego, South America’s southernmost tip.

She said she knew straight away because they took their hats off.

Shocked and absolutely devastated, Hayley and mum Helen and dad Eliot had been eagerly awaiting David’s homecoming. The family had only recently returned from a holiday-of-a-lifetime with him over Christmas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Minn family, December 2017
The Minn family: happy on holiday in December 2017

“We got to spend two weeks with him as a family,” Hayley said.

“It was our first family holiday in 10 years, so it was already special. Now those memories are even more special.”

Hayley thought back to the amazing time they’d spent together and how David’s winning nature and sense of adventure had made it so much fun.

Travel signs via Unsplash
David had a thirst for adventure

What if she could help him continue his adventures and share who he was, through a virtual introduction to people he never got a chance to meet?

Now those memories are even more special.

Together with David’s best friend Emma and her boyfriend Josh, Hayley launched a social media movement to continue her brother’s adventurous legacy.

They posted a story about David on Facebook, describing who he was and how he had died, along with photos of him and the friends he met on his travels.

A message from a friend
A message to David sent by friends from Camp America

They are calling on people from all around the world to play a part in David’s life, by creating new adventures and memories.

Inspired, people are sharing his story and adding their own good wishes to a message in a bottle with the headline #MinnMakesHisWay – the hashtag David used during his travels. Each person adds their own name to the note and describes where in the world they cast their message out to sea.

“It’s a way for my special, smiley brother to continue his travels,” says Hayley.

David and Hayley at David’s graduation in 2017

“He’s the loveliest boy you’ll ever meet.”

Even people who had never met him agree.

David was the social glue of North West London.

Hayley’s been touched by just how many people have been inspired by David’s story and his spirit of adventure.

“The amazing feedback has shown how many people have been left devastated by his death,” she says.

Good friend Noga Hill, wrote in her message in a bottle that David will be remembered as the ‘social glue of North West London.’

“He united individuals from different friendship groups, locally and worldwide. He was truly the super glue that kept us altogether, all whilst having the biggest grin on his face,” Noga wrote.

Her letter, cast in the Irish sea, just off the shores of Belfast could now be now on a voyage to somewhere David had never been before.

David, Monkey Island, Vietnam
David on Monkey Island, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

David’s tributes have eached people all over the globe including Israel, South Africa, Australia, Vietnam and Costa Rica.

“I think he’d really love what we’re doing for him. He’s now been to places he’d always wanted to go and seen some beautiful things,” adds Hayley.

A message for David sent from Australia
Messages have been sent out to sea for David from all corners of the world

Anyone who finds a message in a bottle is asked to take a photo and post it on Facebook, with the hashtag #MinnMakesHisWay, and describe where they found it. Then they’re asked to throw it back to sea, so David can continue his travels and always be remembered.

No one is really gone until they're forgotten.

Hayley says that she and the family are taking great comfort in what they’re doing and from the kindness of friends and strangers who’ve embraced David’s memory.

A message for David from Israel
Special words for a special man

“It’s been so amazing to hear other people’s stories of David, and how much they loved him,” she smiles.

“It sounds really cheesy, but no one is really gone until they’re forgotten.”