SOMETIMES, it seems like things are meant to be...and that was the case at a poignant event held beside a beautiful North-East lake last week.

Every year, the “Floating Thoughts” ceremony is organised by Butterwick Hospice   at Hardwick Park, near Sedgefield.

Families come together at dusk to remember loved ones with dedications placed inside illuminated lanterns which are pulled across the lake on small white rafts.

Everyone who turned up at this year’s event had their own memories to cherish and stories to tell.

One of those I chatted to was Jim Gorman, from Trimdon, who was remembering his wife Angela, formerly the well-known practice manager at the doctors’ surgery in Sedgefield.

Tragically, the couple had only just celebrated their golden wedding at nearby Hardwick Hall Hotel when Angela succumbed to cancer.

Jim and Angela have two granddaughters, Emily and Lola, and to help her Grandad through his grief, Emily bought him a beautiful red setter puppy called Holly.

Imagine the family’s surprise when they discovered that Holly’s kennel name just happened to be “Angelola”.

STILL on the subject of the Butterwick, one of the proudest moments in The Northern Echo’s illustrious campaigning history came 21 years ago when Gary Barlow opened the children’s hospice.

The paper had launched a hugely successful appeal to help fund the children’s wing at the Stockton hospice after the death of Princess Diana in 1997. It was an enduring lesson in how something positive can come out of bad news.

Now, a creative bid is being made to woo Gary back, with staff, volunteers and patients serenading him with their own version of one of his biggest hits.

“We want you back, we want you back,” they sang one day last week, while wearing Gary Barlow masks, and with a cardboard cut-out of the Take That star looking on.

Take That are performing at The Riverside stadium in Middlesbrough on Saturday so Gary will be in the area. Hopefully, the social media campaign – featuring the Butterwick Choir – will reach him and he’ll pop in for a return visit.

In the meantime, here’s my own message as a proud Butterwick ambassador: “Hiya Gary it’s been 21 years since your last visit, so we’ve shown a lot of Patience and, if you come, it’ll be something we’ll Never Forget.”

Fingers crossed.

AS disillusioned as I am with politics, I did my duty last week by voting in the European elections.

I popped along to my local polling station at Hurworth Primary School, promptly put my foot in a pothole in the car park, and now have a sprained ankle all strapped up.

As if politics isn’t painful enough, eh?.

HARD hats off to former Tow Law Football Club chairman John Flynn for celebrating his 70th birthday by abseiling from the top of Middlesbrough’s Transporter Bridge.

John took the plunge with other family members in aid of the appeal by County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust’s charity to raise £1m to establish a centre of excellence for cancer care.

Bravely, I volunteered to climb the bridge with John, with the aim of taking pictures from the top.

Confession time – I panicked halfway up and froze.

“Actually, I think the best picture’s going to be from the ground,” I told the guide.

AS Redcar Racecourse celebrated one of the big days of its season this week, with the historic Zetland Gold Cup meeting, an interesting bit of gossip from behind the scenes.

The charming Malcolm Tomlinson, a regular raceday commentator at Redcar, doubles up as a professional actor and has landed a role in the forthcoming final series of Peaky Blinders.

Malcolm, who has been commentating brilliantly at courses around the country for 25 years, will be appearing in the hit BBC drama as the Tory MP for Epping South.

His long list of credits also includes Eastenders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks and, going back in his career, he’s also done plenty of pantomimes, including appearing as one of the Ugly Sisters, Scrooge and The Queen of Hearts.

This week's big Redcar meeting featured a highly-entertaining mascot race in aid of the North East Autism Society. I couldn't help wondering if Malcolm would be tempted to shout as the mascots headed for the winning post: “He’s behind you!”

FINALLY, it was a pleasure to return as guest speaker to Jarrow Women’s Institute the other day.

As soon as I walked into St Matthew’s Church Hall, the memories came flooding back of my last visit, several years ago, when I was asked to judge the “most unusual tie” competition.

There were two especially fetching ties – one with psychedelic stripes and the one with funny little ghosts. Since I couldn’t separate them, I asked if it could be “a tie”.

There then followed one of the most surreal moments of my career as chairwoman Marjorie Green held up the winning ties and said how much she admired the ghosts.

“They’re not ghosts, they’re condoms,” shouted Auriel Brown, whose husband Alan, a seafaring type, had bought the saucy tie on one of his far-off trips.

“Well,” said Marjorie, casually, “I have to say I’ve never seen him wear anything like that!”

She was quick to splutter that she meant such an unusual tie – and not a condom.

And that just about ties things up for another week.