Category Archives: Mediumship

David Thompson replies — then refuses to give answers

Katie KingUPDATED 10th and 13th September
I’m delighted to report that British-born physical medium David Thompson has responded to my report on a “materialisation” séance I attended last month. I had hoped that it might open up a dialogue in which he would participate, on an immensely important subject and one that has been hotly disputed for more than a century, since the photo of the spirit of Katie King (left) was taken by Sir William Crookes.

His criticism of my Blog was posted on the website of his Circle of the Silver Cord. He also submitted it to me for inclusion as a Comment here and also as a comment on the SpiritofPN website where a healthy debate has also ensured.

Rather than publish it as just another Comment, I think it is important that Thompson’s views are not buried among the many other opinions that have been expressed, and for that reason I am treating it as a new topic. Besides, that gives me an opportunity to correct many of the misstatements and false assumptions he makes (see below). Unlike David, however, I am not going to suggest any ulterior motive – just his lack of knowledge in certain areas.

I expressed the hope that David would enter into the same spirit of openness by publishing my responses (and corrections) on his website so that his visitors are given both sides of the argument. He has refused to do so, which I believe will tell unbiased observers a lot about him and his mediumship. He first acknowledged the fact that I had responded to his comments with these words:

9th September: “In response to my last posting “Setting The Record Straight” the person it was addressed towards has replied by placing a new blog upon his website. In fairness to him please feel free to see his spin upon my answers to my previous article. I don’t wish to get into a backwards and forwards with him, trying to justify my mediumship to him, or to promote his website or meet his needs. As I stated in my previous post:

“I don’t deny that physical mediumship is not for everyone. If you are sceptical and can’t accept the possibility of materialisation in the dark, it’s not for you. Don’t apply to attend a séance that is clearly stated as being held in the dark on the protocol forms.”

David Thompson doesn’t give a link to this website, but hopefully his supporters will be able to find their way to If they do so, they will see that I did not put any “spin” on his words, simply corrected his inaccuracies and misrepresenations and put seven questions to him about his mediumship. But after just a few days on his website, “Setting the Record Straight” has been removed. Thompson explains why:

12th September: I have decided to remove the posting “Setting the Record Straight” [as] I do not wish to give these people any more of our time and certainly do not wish to help promote their obvious negativity on this website. Needless to say the article can be viewed on other websites if anyone wishes to read my answers to some of these somewhat dubious individuals.

Intriguingly, this statement is published alongside an image of Thompson with ecotplasm streaming from his mouth down over his knees which has the following caption: “Taken during a public seance in red light in Auckland, NZ (2009)”. Strange that a man who insists his seances are only held in the dark should publish a picture of himself producing ecotplasm in red light. It is this sort of discrepancy or inconsistency that leads people to make false assumptions about the conditions under which his seances are held and the phenomena that will be “witnessed” when they attend. At the same time, Thompson responded to my Comment on SpiritofPN with these words:

“Dear Mr Stemman. You are quiet correct, I have chosen not to answer your questions, why should I? I am only answerable to the spirit world, not you or any other person. I choose not to engage with you any longer to promote your website or your forthcoming ventures. Please feel free along with your few cohorts to slap each other on the back and believe that you have made a contribution to a subject you only have limited knowledge about. Along with your cohorts please hear this: I AM NOT IN THIS LIFE TO LIVE UP TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS OR TO MEET YOUR NEEDS. Best Regards – David Thompson”

I am sorry that Thompson has decided not to enter into a dialogue about his mediumship, either on his own website or on others. I think now it is just a matter of time before the voice of reason forces him to change his mind and to be more open, and hopefully Spiritualist organisations will take an active role in putting pressure on him to do so. Needless to say, I will continue to take a keen interest in the claims that are made for his mediumship and the evidence that is produced, despite the snub.

Without more ado, here’s what he had to say in his original post, under the headline. To help readers get the most from this exchange, I am giving my responses in purple type:

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT. The negative and damaging article by Roy Stemman.

Materialisation mediums have, historically, had to put up with lies, distortions and personal attacks. It’s bad enough when these come from the materialists but after many years of keeping silent in the face of such attacks and most unfair provocations by a tiny number of people claiming to be “spiritual” I feel it is time to set the record straight for the sake of decent people who may inadvertently come across those attacks on the internet.

Recently, while I was on tour in the UK and Spain, Roy Stemman wrote a very negative article about my mediumship on the basis of one sitting. In it he made many inaccurate claims which I want to set straight.

First I want to point out that Roy Stemman is not a qualified afterlife investigator. As far as I know he is a journalist and knows nothing about scientific method.  His article was written as a “layperson” and with an “agenda”. It also shows he does not know about the refinements of physical mediumship.

Wrong! And also very silly. If David wants to dismiss my qualifications, that’s up to him. And I’m quite comfortable to be referred to as simply an investigative journalist. But that does rather overlook the fact that I first sat in a physical circle before David Thompson was born. I have since sat with a number of mediums claiming to possess physical mediumship and written about those experiences. I also have a large library of books on the subject so I understand better than most the historical significance of materialisations to the Spiritualist movement, as well as the many cases of fraud – one of which I was involved in exposing – that have given physical mediumship a bad name.

On the other hand, Montague Keen, who was the president of the Survival Committee of the Society of Psychical Research and a member for this SPR for 55 years, investigated my mediumship and wrote a glowing report. His conclusion was that my mediumship is genuine.

Monty was a good friend. As a long-standing member of the Society for Psychical Research I am, of course, well aware of the séance he had with David Thompson. Nothing I wrote about my own experience undermines Monty’s findings. It is not unusual, in the field of psychic research, for investigators to come to different conclusions about what they witness. Their debates, however, should lead to a better understanding of the phenomena being investigated and, hopefully, help produce results that are less questionable. For the record, I must point out that, like me, Monty was not a scientist – like me, he was a journalist. Also, let’s not forget that Monty’s verdict was based on a single session. I’m not criticising that, but David can’t have it both ways. My report, he argues, is unreliable because I am just a journalist who had only one séance with him. Montague Keen’s report, on the other hand, is reliable – presumably because it was favorable. David, it might also interest you to know that a report I published of the SPR debate on the Scole Experiment resulted in Monty writing a letter to me to say it was the best summary of the very complex case that he had seen. So, please don’t try to convince your followers that Monty and I are very different researchers. Our findings might differ but our approach is very similar.

After Montague Keen died he materialised through my mediumship on a number of occasions and a speech he dictated while materialised was read out at his funeral. He spoke to his wife, Veronica, while materialised, and she confirmed that it was genuinely Montague. And recently, while I was on the same tour, Robin Foy wrote three detailed and highly favorable reports on my mediumship. He claimed that he received evidential personal messages through my mediumship for which he had been waiting for a number of years. He is probably one of the most experienced afterlife investigators today, someone who has investigated physical mediumship for more than 50 years and was one of the key sitters in the highly regarded Scole Group.

I was also investigated thoroughly and systematically over a long period of time by a specialist in evidence – a lawyer – and by a psychologist. Both have professional degrees in scientific methodology and professional experience. Because they were totally convinced of the validity of my mediumship they asked me if they could join The Circle of the Silver Cord.

The True Facts

1) Roy says that he was expecting the séance to be conducted in red light yet he is on record for criticising the fact that my sittings, like those of Rita Gould and Stewart Alexander, are held in total darkness. The first sentence on the form that all sitters have to sign before attending states: “All sittings are held in total darkness” and this is made clear repeatedly in the pre-séance talks. 

Wrong! Though the forms we were sent before the séance did talk about darkness, I had read reports that David was producing some phenomena in red light. One of those attending the séance (Bill Meadows, I believe) told me in advance that we could expect phenomena in red light. However, his partner Christine, the circle leader, told us that the guides had informed her that red light would not be used on the evening I attended – and that seems to be the norm. A couple of additional points of accuracy. David’s spelling of Rita’s surname is wrong: it should be Goold. A minor point, I know, but it suggests he is not as familiar with other physical mediums as he claims. Certainly, his statement that Stewart Alexander’s seances are always held in the dark is false. Someone who has taken part in many of his public seances tells me that they have seldom failed to use “at least some red light”. Most often, she adds, “this is to enable people to see the materialisation of a hand or wrist. More recently, there has been a further experiment in red light where two sitters participate by placing their hands on the table, after which a spirit hand materialises close to their own. This is all clearly visible and Stewart’s own hands are on the table at the same time, controlled by the sitters at the table.” So, David, please check your facts before making false claims.

2) In the séance forms and pre-séance briefing it is made very clear that having a negative mindset can seriously interfere with the energy and affect the phenomena. People who have not investigated physical mediumship do not understand this fundamental fact. Having even one person in a room with a negative mindset can reduce the number of materialisations that happen and the strength of the phenomena. Coming to a séance with an already preconceived belief that unless the mediumship is held in lighted conditions it is not genuine is totally unethical. By having a fixed negative mind, Roy himself contributed to ‘lowering’ the energy of the séance.

I did? Then why was it that I was one of only four people to receive “personal” messages? Why did William not only place a hand on my head but also stand on my feet? And why did David Fontana pat me on the shoulder? No, I’m sorry, that negative attitude excuse doesn’t add up at all.

3) Roy says “that there was no evidence of anything paranormal in the séance” that he attended. Yet other people who were there commented on the extraordinary precision of the trumpets that flew around the room at lightning speed without hitting anyone and the fact that my chair was levitated and moved several meters at the end.  Both my feet were strapped in. Tony Pappard, a journalist with mediumship skills, is on record for stating that his partner came through with highly evidential messages.  Dr David Fontana, who investigated the Scole Experiment, left a highly evidential message for a person who sits in another circle: Ray Lister, Stewart Alexander’s circle leader, confirmed this and complimented myself and Christine after the séance.

I will comment on the experience of Tony Papard (not correct spelling of his name) later.

4)  “The medium controlled everything.” That is blatantly untrue. I did not do the searching, did not lead the circle, did not see the forms before the séance, did not strap myself into the chair, did not secure the gag and the binds, did not hold the clippers, did not control the music. The only thing I did was scan everyone with the metal detector and seat people (see next point). Given that my life is on the line because of the highly sensitive ectoplasm, I am unwilling to put both these responsibilities onto others. These kinds of misrepresentations I am informed amount to malicious writing against me.

David, you must learn to distinguish between reasonable observations, which was what I was making when considering events from a sceptical viewpoint, and what you term “malicious writing”.

5)  “The medium placed the sitters and would have been in a position to know where people sat.” Again this shows Roy’s inexperience with energy work as explained in point 2.  Anyone who has sat in a darkened séance room knows that it is extremely difficult to move around without bumping into people and impossible to walk across the room and touch someone on the head without first groping around to find them. In any event, as Robin Foy remarked at a subsequent séance, the materialised forms moved from one side of the large room to the other in an instant – something impossible for a bumbling human to do in the dark.

It was probably just coincidence that the people who had messages or who were touched by the “materialisations” were all sitting in easily accessible positions. But sceptics would find that suspicious, since David directed them to those seats.

6) Roy continues to misrepresent when he claims that I knew who would be attending and saw their forms and in advance of the séance, implying that I would use the information to search out facts about people attending. I had a quick look at the list and did not object to anyone – even Roy Stemman who is on record for having been sceptical of my mediumship before the séance. However I did not see any of the forms which are kept by the organisers who checked the IDs.

Wrong! There’s clearly no misrepresentation in my report. David admits that he had “a quick look” at the list of sitters in advance. He doesn’t say how much in advance. But the need to provide names and photo ID are highly suspect in my view.

Asking people to sign the form and provide evidence of their identity again on entry is a way of reducing the likelihood of someone giving their ticket to another person whose intent may not be of a positive nature and out to prove the medium is a fraud by grabbing the materialisations. This is done because of legal advice given to me.  The form was introduced because a New York lawyer stated that if he was allowed to attend he would do a football tackle onto the materialised spirit.

I don’t see how asking people for photo ID is going to prevent someone doing something they should not do during a physical séance, though I am fully in agreement with making people aware of their legal responsibilities during such events.

Such things have happened in the past e.g. to Alec Harris when a trusted sitter obtained tickets and then passed them on to two sceptical journalists who tried to grab a materialized form. As a result Alec was almost killed and his mediumship was never the same.

Legal advice stated it was important to make every potential sitter aware of his/her legal duty and liability should they violate the strict security protocols. This is important so that they will take seriously their obligations and know that they will be held legally accountable for their behavior and cannot plead ignorance afterwards. The Circle never had problems with decent people, but it is critically important to follow legal procedures. I make no apology for doing everything to protect my health and my safety since in the past I have been cut, burned and bruised by sitters who were not aware of the danger.

7) In any event, the kind of evidence that comes though in a personal reunion is not the kind of thing that can be researched in advance on the internet – things like what was put into the coffin of your loved one, pet names, the way a loved one behaved, the last words you said to them.

Unfortunately, no such stunning evidence was produced at the séance I attended.

8) Roy’s misleading report claims that a competent stage illusionist could have escaped from the cable ties and run around the room in the dark for one and a half hours, manipulating the trumpets and creating the voices of William, Timothy, Louis Armstrong, Quentin Crisp, May, David Fontana, Tony Pappard’s partner George and the lady’s grandfather. He would have had to re-attach the plastic straps and obtain new cable ties and clip them off to the same length. This would mean that I would also have had to have created all the hundreds of the voices of loved ones who spoke in hundreds of reunions over the last ten years including voices in Russian, French and Chinese as well as imitating barking dogs which jumped on their owners’ laps.

I remind Roy that I am not a competent stage illusionist – I worked in the aviation industry. And I have a strong English accent. If I could do what he claims I would be making a lot more money in a magic act in Las Vegas.

I also remind him that a number of experienced investigators including Montague Keen and Robin Foy have thoroughly inspected the plastic one way cable ties I always use and concluded that it is not humanly possible to escape from them.

I suspect that they might have said the same thing about the way in which an escape artist is trussed up … only to see him get out of them. So, I’m going to suggest an experiment shortly that would overcome that criticism.

Montage Keen’s report stated – in his own words:

“It is almost an article of faith among many psychical researchers that unless physical phenomena are capable of being clearly witnessed, or alternatively that infra-red video recording is available, no persuasive evidence of anything paranormal is possible. Although the spirit portrayed as Sir William Crookes explained why an infra-red video camera might be damaging to the medium at his present stage of development, the general rule of evidentiality may be broken if the other security measures justify an unambiguous assertion that deception on the part of the medium was impossible. The nature of the ties would have prevented the medium, no matter how strong or agile, from escaping his bonds without first managing to cut the ties. Even had he been able to do so, he could not have regained his seat and retied the knots unaided, employing a new set of uncut ties, unless he had been helped by someone able to work deftly, accurately and swiftly in pitch dark. No-one in the séance room could have attempted that without ready detection. Moreover my careful examination of the chair showed no sign of any movable join. Finally, the reversal of the medium’s cardigan while he was still bonded to his seat defies normal explanation. The precautions here were superior even to those employed by Schrenck Notzing on Eva C, who was sewn into a single garment, or on the physical medium Jack Webber, where less sophisticated tying methods, and materials, were used. The voices themselves could not have come from the gagged medium. The only other ‘regulars’ on whom suspicion might rest were his wife, Paul the leader who was seated next to me, and whose voice and location would have clearly identified him, and DF, the host, who was seated at the opposite end of the room from the medium. Any of these possibilities would have easily and immediately been detectable by those present, as well as likely to be defeated by listening to the tape recording.”

9) The report claims falsely that Harry Houdini is a member of the spirit team and implies that he gave me instructions in escapology. Please!!! A spirit claiming to be Harry Houdini came through – as a visitor – just a few times in 2007 and has not done so since and all visits were recorded. His main purpose was to apologise for his persecution of the Davenport Brothers and Margery Crandon. At no time did he even mention escapology.

Totally false! I implied no such thing. I made the point that “since Harry Houdini is said to be one of his regular séance visitors” David should be aware that a competent stage illusionist (which Houdini was, of course) could easily escape from restraints. I never suggested Houdini had taught David to do so. How absurd.

10) On a number of special occasions when the energy is right William allows sitters to approach the cabinet, turn on a red light, and see that I am still unconscious in the chair at the same time as he or other spirits are talking in direct voice. During the recent tour Robin Foy witnessed two independent checkers doing this. In the home circle lawyer Victor Zammit and medium Sunny Burgess have had this experience. However the energy field has to be extremely good for this to happen and the person approaching the cabinet has to have William’s complete trust.

11) Roy Stemman unfairly accuses me outright of fraud when he says that the materialisations felt like a normal human being – “which they clearly were”.  This shows he has not done his research. Everyone who has ever experienced contact with a fully materialised figure states that they feel normal to the touch and sound, like a normal human being. In one case a doctor examined a fully materialised figure produced by Mirabelli and found that he had a pulse and heartbeat. Clearly this shows Roy is limited in his knowledge about materialisations.

This is David twisting words again. What I was saying was that a materialised spirit is just like a living, breathing, walking, talking person. No difference. So, if you are sitting in the dark and someone puts their hand on your head and claims to be a spirit, how are you to know that it really is a ghostly form and not a human? Without some form of light, or superbly evidential messages, making that judgment is not easy.

12) Again Roy implies fraud – a very serious damaging and unfounded claim – by saying that the boot William placed on Roy’s foot had a ridge on it ‘like David’s trainers’. How can he tell the difference between boots which have ridged soles and trainers? Did he not notice that the voice of William who was six foot two was much higher in the room than mine would have been and that William’s hand placed on his head was much larger than mine? At a subsequent séance in Spain, and specifically in relation to Roy’s claim, Robin Foy asked William to demonstrate the sound of his boots on the floor and showed it was completely different to the sound of trainers. This also shows that Roy ‘had an agenda’ before the séance.

Correct! I do have an agenda. It is to encourage those who claim to possess physical mediumship to develop it to the point where they can demonstrate it in a way that dispels doubts – as Alec Harris clearly did. I’m not sure why William has to waste ectoplasm by materialising boots, but let’s leave that discussion to another day.

13) Roy Stemman found it peculiar that the materialised David Fontana knew that Roy was writing a book but didn’t know that Roy had recently sent it to publishers when Roy wrote about it on his website. More credible is that David Fontana heard his colleagues in the spirit world mention the book in connection with the fact that Roy Stemman would be sitting. Why would Roy think David Fontana would be interested to read his website? Just because we go to the spirit world we don’t suddenly become all knowing.

Wrong again. David, once more, is twisting my words. He omits the fact that David Fontana told me he had been helping me with my book. The point I made was that, if he were doing so, he should have known that I had finished it. I didn’t suggest that Fontana would be reading my Blog in the spirit world.

14) The report claims that David Fontana offered no survival evidence when he would have been acutely aware of the need for such evidence. However, Ray and June Lister confirmed that they were given a message to take to someone not present about something they knew nothing about. Is this not the best kind of survival evidence?

I’ll make contact with Ray and June to find out more about that particular message.

15) The report claims that Tony Papard was unhappy with the quality of evidence he received when the very next day Tony confirmed that he had been in contact with his deceased partner who confirmed everything. Tony has gone on record that he was very happy with the survival evidence. He writes:

” At the last sitting in August this year my partner came thru with some …evidential stuff including the name of a friend’s dog and an analogy about barriers dividing loved ones concerning something we disagreed about in life -the Berlin Wall. It was significant that the 50th anniversary of its erection was the night of August 13th/14th 2011 and the séance was on August 15th 2011.

“My partner mentioned the 28 years this barrier stood, i.e. the barrier between this world and the next. My partner spoke in a soft, shy voice as in life (he hated speaking in public and there were about 30 people at the séance.) I felt his small hands touch my cheeks. Although he couldn’t get the voice right as a first-time communicator by this method, I know it was him. He also said he was a ‘pain’ in life, and another medium gave me a similar message from him, that he could be ‘selfish’. This was also evidential, though as I replied to him at the séance I could be a right pain too at times.”

I think, David, that visitors to your site should be made aware that most of what Tony has written, above, emanates from his own mediumship. All that he received at your séance was one name, Sandy, which is a dog he had written about on his website, and a number – 28. He has decided what significance that number has, rightly or wrongly. To me, it demonstrates the lack of real evidence from these “materialisations”. In fact, Tony agrees with me. In a subsequent comment on my Blog he wrote: “But, I have to agree with you, I’ve had better evidence of survival at a clairvoyance meeting at the Fairfield Halls with Colin Fry who described my grandmother’s death, gave her first name, and intricate details of what happened to my mother’s kitchen which he couldn’t have possibly known about …”

16) The report claims that there was nothing strikingly evidential in the father-daughter reunion but he then says that Tony Papard was the only person he spoke to after the séance. How would he know what was evidential to the daughter if he didn’t ask?

True. But as the séance was in total darkness, I not only could not see the materialisations but I couldn’t see who they were talking to either!

17) He then goes on to suggest that more survival evidence would be produced in my mental mediumship and trance sessions. Clearly this shows his bias against physical mediumship. I am also informed by another reliable member of my Circle that Roy had expressed anti-materialisation views well before the séance.

Wrong. I believe there have been some outstanding materialisation mediums over the years.

I don’t deny that physical mediumship is so logically impossible to people who have not studied it that their minds go into turmoil trying to find whether it is a trick. This is why we bend over backwards to include as many security protocols as we can without jeapardising the phenomena.

However, the way that Stemman rushed into print the very next morning without checking the above facts and his subsequent actions in allowing a few people who had existing grudges against me to post on his forum without giving their names shows a total disregard for ethics.

I did not rush into print next morning. I simply reported on what I experienced while it was fresh in my mind (it’s the sort of thing investigative reporters do, David) and if I had waited a week my report would have said exactly the same things.

Also, most serious, was when he deliberately omitted any mention of the reports of Montague Keen and Robin Foy and others like Ann Harrison, Tom and Lisa Butler, the directors of ATransC, who have written positive reports of their experiences and the personal evidence they received.

There are very good reasons why! First, I was reporting on a single séance that I attended, not writing a review of your past mediumship. Secondly, some of the reports of seances you refer to (Ann Harrison, Robin Foy) had not even taken place when I sat with you.

 It is no coincidence that the main people posting on his forum and the Spirit of PN forum where he immediately placed his article are people who have a long-standing personal agenda against me, who I will reveal the reasons for with back up evidence in the future.

Wrong again, David. You seem to be making a habit of this. Spirit of PN kindly made a PDF version of my Blog available when my website ‘s servers went out of action for two days. Once it was up and running, Spirit of PN simply gave a link to my site. Nothing sinister in that, I’m afraid.

Others who supposedly support them anonymously have no credibility – it is very easy to create multiple fake accounts for anonymous posting on a forum.

Sadly, this little group of cohorts was and still is allowed to jump on the bandwagon created by Roy Stemman’s willfully biased reporting – to intentionally hurt me. There is a saying ‘Birds of a Feather flock together”.

There’s also a saying about feathering one’s own nest … but let’s not go there.

I don’t deny that physical mediumship is not for everyone. If you are sceptical and can’t accept the possibility of materialisation in the dark it’s not for you. Don’t apply to attend a séance that is clearly stated as being held in the dark on the protocol forms.

Also don’t try to score cheap points by omission and distortion.  A fair and balanced view is to give ALL facts not just the ones that fit a person’s personal agenda. In the end, you will only be hurting yourself because decent people will avoid any forum that encourages spitefulness, envy, hatred and negativity.

David Thompson (Circle of the Silver Cord)

While it’s true that some people go too far in their criticisms (or support), I’m keen that this dialogue should not descend into a war of words that gets nobody anywhere. Instead, I’d like to put seven questions to David:

1.  Is it the goal of yourself or your spirit helpers to ultimately produce materialisations or other physical phenomena in a red light?

2.  If so, when do you expect that to happen?

3.  In the meantime, is it sensible to continue to demonstrate in total darkness, leaving some participants (as evidenced from responses to my Blog) unconvinced by the results?

4.  Are your spirit helpers striving to provide more personal survival evidence in the future and less show business entertainment from the likes of Quentin Crisp and Louis Armstrong?

5.  Can your main spirit helper, William, explain why the materialised Gordon Higginson was unaware that his good friend Heather Hatton had passed over to spirit a year earlier when he communicated in Australia?

6.  Have your spirit helpers been asked about the introduction of night vision goggles or infra-red light to view and even film the materialised entities?

7.  Instead of being tied up during a séance, would you agree to being tested by SPR researchers using simple weighing devices that would monitor not only your presence in a chair throughout the séance proceedings, but also the independent existence (by weight) of any spirits that materialised? Such a method would be totally unobtrusive as far as light is concerned, if total darkness continues to be a necessary condition of your mediumship.

I look forward to receiving your responses to these seven questions, and also to seeing my responses to your comments posted on the Circle of the Silver Cord website.


As the update to this post has already pointed out, David Thompson has refused to answer the questions posed or to share my responses with visitors to his website. And he has now removed “Setting the Record Straight” from his own website. I leave my readers to draw their own conclusions.

Lilian Bailey and a royal seance

Lilian BaileyI promised in my last Blog, which was about the impressive evidence Lionel Logue received from psychic  Lilian Bailey, to share more information about the famous London medium’s royal connections. Logue, as I explained, was the speech therapist to the future King of England, George VI, and he also received messages from dead royals which he passed to the king.

I knew about that but nothing could have prepared me for the story which her son-in-law, Gordon Adams, bookshop manager and company secretary at Psychic Press, publishers of Psychic News, confided in me after my own sitting with Lilian. Bill (as Gordon was known to his friends) revealed that a remarkable séance had taken place in 1953, not many years before I began investigating Spiritualism. It was very much a family “secret” because Lillian was sworn to secrecy and I was told about it on the understanding that I did not discuss it with anyone until her death, which occurred in October 1971.

Bill Adams, I should explain, was a very good friend. We were colleagues for eight years and we were also near neighbours, Bill having tipped me off when a resident in the apartment building in London where he lived passed away, meaning that my application to rent the deceased’s flat was the first received by the landlord, and I was successful.

Here’s the story he told me, taken from my book Spirit Communication (Piatkus, 2005 and 2010):

Lilian Bailey knew there were people who required her to perform under the strictest test conditions before they would be prepared to accept the evidence of their own eyes and ears, and she always did her best to satisfy those demands, within reason. So when she received a request from a stranger to give a séance at a house in Kensington, she agreed. A limousine took her to a well-appointed property, then she was taken on to another address and was required to put on a blindfold during the journey so that there were no visual clues about the person or people she would be meeting. Again, she agreed.

She was eventually led into a room, where she sensed others were gathered, and was asked to conduct the séance, still wearing the blindfold. This was not a great hindrance, since Lilian Bailey often worked in trance. Puzzled but philosophical about the lengths to which people went to test her mediumship, the medium eased herself into a chair and soon felt herself drifting off into a trance, allowing her main spirit helper, Bill Wootton, and others in the next world to take over her body and speak through her lips.

In what seemed to her like no time at all, she returned to normal consciousness and was told she could remove the blindfold. As her eyes grew accustomed to the light she surveyed the sitters.

Sitting in a circle on gilt chairs were the Queen Mother, the Queen, Prince Philip, Princess Margaret, Princess Alexandra and the Duke of Kent.

This astonishing experience, which happened a year after the death of King George VI, had clearly been arranged in the hope of receiving a communication from the dead monarch, and it was almost certainly successful. But, since she was in trance, Lilian Bailey knew nothing of the conversations that took place between members of the British royal family and those who wished to speak to them from the spirit world. Nor have any of those who participated – unsurprisingly – ever commented directly on the secret séance.

Royal biographer and Daily Telegraph court correspondent Ann Morrow included the story in her book, The Queen Mother, published by Granada in 1984. She had asked Gordon Adams if Lilian Bailey was unnerved when she removed her blindfold. He replied: “My mother-in-law had dealings with all sorts of people, such as the Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek and the King of Greece. So she did not feel intimidated by royalty; it was all in a day’s work for her.”

The Queen Mother is reported to have continued to phone Lilian Bailey for some time after the séance and further private sittings took place. Eventually, when she came to terms with her loss and was clearly satisfied that the dead King continued to watch over her from the spirit world, she asked the medium to Clarence House one last time. Removing a piece of costume jewellery from the dress she was wearing, the Queen Mother pinned it on Lilian Bailey’s shoulder, saying: “You know we do not have many possessions, but I would like you to have this.” It expressed her gratitude for the comfort she received. Almost immediately, the monarch’s widow returned to public life.

Since the Royal Family have never confirmed the story, can we be sure that this remarkable event actually took place?

Those who knew Lilian Bailey – who was awarded an OBE for services in France during World War I when she served with the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps – are adamant that she would not have invented such a story to boost her reputation. She was already famous and, since the story was never published during her lifetime, it did not affect her standing among Spiritualists or the public. That may not satisfy sceptics.

More to the point is an observation made by Ann Morrow. In writing her book, she received assistance from the Queen Mother and her Private Secretary, Sir Martin Gilliat. They saw proofs of the book and raised no objection to the inclusion of the report on the royal séance. The story was repeated, again without objection, in Ann Morrow’s Without Equal: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, published in July 2000 to mark her centenary.

Since I wrote Spirit Communication I’ve been made aware of a couple of additional facts which may or may not be relevant. The first is that, as well as telling the story in her biographies of The Queen Mother, Ann Morrow also includes “Mrs Lilian Bailey: a psychic who helped the Queen Mother after the King’s death” as one of just 19 individuals under the headline “Key Figures in the Life of the Queen Mother” at the front of Without Equal. Lilian sits in the alphabetical list above Stanley Baldwin who was British Prime Minister at the time of King Edward VIII’s abdication.

King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Mackenzie KingI must add that Buckingham Palace poured cold water on the story, after a newspaper picked it up, with a spokesperson commenting that it was a nice after-dinner story but totally untrue. My response is that, having known the medium concerned and her son-in-law I have no reason to disbelieve the story. Besides, I also know that  The Queen Mother consulted society clairvoyant Tom Corbett, but that was also denied by the royal household.

Interestingly, King George VI and the Queen visited Canada and the United States three years after he became monarch. He was, of course, also King of Canada and the royal couple were accompanied throughout the trip by the Prime Minister of Canada, William Lyon Mackenzie King, who was then serving his third term in that office (from 1935-1948). He is pictured (left) at Banff Springs with the royal visitors.

Mackenzie King was a Spiritualist who not only consulted many mediums but also conducted his own mediumistic experiments. After a trip to the League of Nations in 1936, it is reported that he went to England to visit the London Spiritualist Alliance in London as part of his quest for greater spiritual understanding.

Throughout the 1940s Mackenzie King continued to consult mediums, including Lilian Bailey, Hester Dowden, Gladys Osborne Leonard, Mrs Sharplin and Geraldine Cummins.

So it is possible that Spiritualism was a topic of conversation between the royal visitors and Canada’s prime minister. If so, he would have had a receptive audience. After all, some years later King George VI told his speech therapist, “My family are no strangers to Spiritualism.”

King’s speech therapist sat with famous medium

Kings Speech posterI don’t need to be psychic to predict that a new book, The King’s Speech, is going to be a best-seller this Christmas, and a movie with the same title, to be released in the UK in early January, is destined to be a box office blockbuster. The film focuses on the fascinating story of how King George VI, father of Queen Elizabeth II, overcame a serious stammer with the help of a remarkable Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue, and the friendship that developed between them. The book, written by the therapist’s grandson Mark Logue and Peter Conradi, is a far more extensive biography. But it doesn’t do justice to the spirit messages Lionel received through Lilian Bailey after his wife, Myrtle, died.

King's Speech book The authors acknowledge Logue’s interest in Spiritualism with these dismissive words:

Lionel Logue“Although otherwise a rational man, he became attracted to Spiritualism in the hope of making contact with her on the ‘other side’. As a result, he got in touch with Lilian Bailey, a ‘deep trance medium’. Over the years, Bailey had been consulted by a number of prominent figures and abroad – among them the Hollywood actresses Mary Pickford, Merle Oberon and Mae West, and Mackenzie King, the Canadian prime minister.”

The implication, of course, is that only irrational people investigate the possibility of spirit communication through mediums. The authors’ dismissal leaves the reader with the impression that Logue’s grief turned him into a credulous individual, which suggests they are not only unaware of the many scientists and eminent people who have sat with mediums and received impresssive evidence of an after-life, but also are ignorant of the content of the messages he received. They also write: “Quite how Logue [right] got in touch with Bailey and how many séances he attended is unclear; his sons, however, were appalled when he used to tell them he was going off to ‘get in touch’ with his late wife.”

Well, I can explain how he got to know Bailey. It came about soon after her death in 1945 when Logue sought help from Hannen Swaffer, Britain’s most famous journalist and newspaper columnist at that time, who was also a Spiritualist.

Hannen SwafferAccording to William F. Neech in his biography of Lilian Bailey, Death Is Her Life, Logue told Swaffer (left) in 1946, “I am a broken man. I have lost my wife and I cannot go on.” He also revealed that he was so grief-stricken that he had even contemplated suicide. The journalist promised to help if he could. A few days later Swaffer, who was often referred to as “the Pope of Fleet Street”, met with Lilian Bailey at a Spiritualist circle and asked, “Can you come to my flat to help a man in grave trouble?”

The medium said she would and Swaffer added: “I won’t tell you anything about him.” Lilian preferred it that way: the less she knew about a person the more impressive was the evidence she provided.

On arrival at Swaffer’s Trafalgar Square apartment no name was mentioned in the introductions. But immediately Lilian felt embarrassed, saying: “I don’t know why it is and I scarcely like to tell you, but George V is here. He asks me to thank you for what you did for his son.”

Subsequently, Logue’s dead wife communicated, controlling the entranced Lilian Bailey’s body and wrapping her arms around her husband. She talked to him about changes he had made to the house and garden – things about which no one else knew. The medium’s spirit guide, Bill Wootton, even told Logue that his pet name for his wife was “Muggsy”. Then he invited the speech therapist to ask any question.

Lilian Bailey“Does my wife want to say anything about the place where we first met?” he asked.

Bill Wootton responded with a puzzled expression. “She is referring to a bird named Charlie. It is not a canary. It looks like a sparrow.”

Logue was overwhelmed. Charlie Sparrow was his best friend and it was at his 21st birthday party that he and his future wife met and fell in love.

From then on, according to Neech’s biography, Logue had regular séances with Lilian Bailey (right) and on many occasions he spoke to King George VI about them, without meeting any hostility. “My family are no strangers to Spiritualism,” he told Logue.

King George VI expressed his gratitude to Logue by giving him a beautifully carved chair – the one in which he sat during his speech therapy sessions – and Logue, in turn, passed it on to Lilian Bailey. She used it for all the sittings given in her own home.

It could be that the authors of The King’s Speech were unaware of the Lilian Bailey biography. I suspect they were also unaware of how Logue met his bride-to-be, which proved so evidential. The first mention of Myrtle in their book comes in a reference to their marriage in Perth in 1907 which simply says they had met the previous year.

Geoffrey Rush plays Lionel LogueIn his introduction to the book, Mark Logue tells of the discovery of boxes of correspondence and scrapbooks in July 2010, when the book was close to completion. It would be fascinating to learn if they provide any further information about his sessions with Lilian Bailey.

King George VI sent a letter of condolence to his friend on learning of Myrtle’s death. In 1952 the King also died. It was Logue’s turn to express sympathy to his widow, who replied just two days later with a letter that shows Logue’s influence on the King went far beyond speech therapy.

“I think that I know perhaps better than anyone just how much you helped the King, not only with his speech, but, through that, his whole life, and outlook on life,” wrote the monarch’s widow, who would soon become The Queen Mother. “I shall always be deeply grateful to you for all you did for him.”

A little over a year later, Lionel Logue (depicted in the film by Geoffrey Rush, above) also passed away.

I knew Lilian Bailey well and had one sitting with her, towards the end of her life, though it was not strikingly evidential. I visited her in her home ­ – she was then living in Wembley, north London – where she sat in an impressive carved wooden chair to conduct the sitting.  That chair had been given to her by Lionel Logue, as a gift, in gratitude for the evidence he had received through her. It was the chair in which King George VI sat during his speech therapy sessions, which began in October 1926 when he was still Albert, Duke of York – before the abdication of his elder brother King Edward VIII and his own accession to the throne.

Despite my criticism, I can recommend The King’s Speech as a thoroughly entertaining read and I’m also looking forward to seeing the movie as soon as it’s released.

In my next blog, I’ll reveal more about Lilian Bailey and her royal connections.

Tom Harrison: ambassador of spirit

Tom and Ann HarrisonNews that an old friend, Tom Harrison, was in hospital and in a deep coma reached me late last week from Sue Farrow, the former editor of Psychic News. And within an hour or so of his passing, it was Sue, again, who conveyed the sad news to me. Despite her knowledge of survival, Sue found it difficult to suppress her emotion when we spoke on the phone. She has long been a close friend of Tom and his wife, Ann (pictured right), so I have invited Sue to use my blog to pay tribute to Tom and tell us about just a few of his contributions to Spiritualism, and why his passing is such a loss.

The man who spoke for an unconventional truth

By Susan Farrow

The Spiritualist movement is infinitely poorer today for the passing of Tom Harrison, one of its most tireless and dedicated ambassadors.

Tom, who passed peacefully on 23 October at the age of 92, had been admitted to hospital the previous day following a brain haemorrhage, thought to have resulted from an earlier fall. Though in a deep coma, he was in the company of his beloved wife Ann, daughter Wendy and son Alan.

What can one say of a man who spoke for an unconventional truth without fear or favour for more than seven decades?

Spiritualism was in Tom’s blood. He was born into a Middlesbrough Spiritualist family on 8 August, 1918. His mother, Minnie, would later become one of the world’s most powerful materialisation mediums, a fact that would influence the entire course of Tom’s life in ways he could never have imagined. His Aunt Agg, Minnie’s sister, was a respected trance medium, and was one of the mediums who gave the legendary Arthur Findlay some of the outstanding evidence contained in his revolutionary book, On the Edge of the Etheric.

On 2 April 1940, while home on leave from the British Expeditionary Force stationed in France, Tom married Doris Hudson. They had become friendly in their teens through a shared association with the local Spiritualist Lyceum. Together they had six children – Colin, Mavis, Joyce, Alan,  Derek and Wendy.

From 6 April 1946 Tom and Doris were part of a unique home circle known as The Saturday Night Club, a small group of family, friends and occasional fortunate guests who witnessed wonders that Spiritualists of today can only dream about. From that time until the passing of Minnie Harrison, Tom and his fellow circle members were privileged to meet and talk with literally hundreds of materialised spirit people, all completely visible in good red light in the small back room of a house in Middlesbrough.

In his own words: “[They returned] not as fleeting, passing visions in somebody’s mind, not even as wispy, transparent ghosts or spectres. They returned in fully-functioning, warm, heart-beating physical bodies. They returned and spoke with the same-sounding voices you would recognise. They returned with the same laughter, the same personality; and as you thrilled to feel their arms embracing you, and even kisses from their lips – the same love.”

In 1958 Minnie Harrison lost her battle with cancer and the remarkable sittings of the Saturday Night Club came to an end. Tom lamented the loss of his mother, to whom he was very close, and also the loss of the extraordinary physical contact with the spirit world they had enjoyed for so long. The following year, he and Doris moved south to the village of Eton Wick, near Windsor, so that Tom could take up a job as national manager of an engineering company. Four years later change was in the air again, and they embarked on the ambitious project of opening a restaurant in Cornwall. The restaurant thrived, Tom and Doris felt settled and content, and planned to put down roots. The spirit people had other ideas…

In 1966 the weekly Spiritualist newspaper Psychic News carried an advert for a founder manager to run the newly-created Arthur Findlay College at Stansted. Tom had long felt there was a need for a centre where people could come and study Spiritualism and psychic science, and immediately applied for the job. His application was successful, and the Harrison family was once again on the move.

Committed as ever to his work for spirit, Tom had expected to remain in the job for many years, but it was not to be. As he later wrote, “…a most unpleasant political intrigue caused great managerial problems” and though, urged by the spirit people, he agreed to stick out the situation a little longer, by 1968 things had reached an impasse and the family returned to Eton Wick. “I was terribly disappointed,” Tom wrote, “but feeling so much happier away from all the unpleasantness at the College at that time.”

Back on the job market, he returned to his former company, eventually becoming manager of their accounts office. Doris passed to spirit in 1976 at the age of just 59, a huge loss to Tom and his children, but he continued to travel the country, speaking about his mother’s mediumship, and working as a freelance accounts adviser.

Tom and circleMeanwhile, another physical medium was busy developing in a home circle in Yorkshire. Stewart Alexander had heard of the amazing events which had taken place through Tom’s mother’s mediumship and decided to write to him. The two men came face to face for the first time in 1991 at a meeting of the Noah’s Ark Society for Physical Mediumship. They formed a strong and enduring friendship, culminating in Tom becoming a member of Stewart’s home circle. [Tom is pictured, front row left, with Stewart Alexander and members of his circle, as well as Gladys Shipman, who along with Tom was the only surviving member of his mother’s home circle, the Saturday Night Club.]

Stewart tells me that he is extremely sad at Tom’s passing and thanks him for his “long, unwavering friendship”. He adds: “For several years we were highly honoured to have both Tom and Ann Harrison as members of our circle. Following their relocation to Spain in January 2000 they became honorary members, visiting the circle whenever they were back in the UK. To say that Tom was a deeply valued friend whose wise, gentle counsel and support we were extraordinarily blessed to have, would be an understatement.”

Tom and Ann had married in 1998 and found great happiness and contentment together. Even as Tom’s health became increasingly fragile following the onset of Parkinson’s disease, he continued  undeterred to spread word of the wonders he had witnessed through his mother’s mediumship, and in this he was enormously supported by Ann, who cared for him with extraordinary love and devotion. He once said to me that she had become so involved in his work that she now knew more about his life than he did!

In later years, Tom and Ann would share the platform during Tom’s talks and lectures, he telling his story and Ann sitting at her laptop illustrating it with many of the remarkable photos that were taken during Saturday Night Club sittings. Only seven weeks ago he delivered that talk during the annual J.V. Trust Week at Stansted Hall, at the invitation of J.V.’s chairman, Eric Hatton, who had known Tom for many decades.

“The passing of Tom to the spirit world leaves a void which will be difficult, if not impossible, to fill,” Eric told me. “He was the epitome of everything a Spiritualist should be. He radiated spirituality and gentleness to all whom he touched, those being facets of  a personality cultivated through a lifetime of close contact with the spirit world, largely through the remarkable mediumship of his mother, Minnie.

“My association with Tom goes back to the early days of Stansted Hall when, as the first manager, he showed leadership and restraint during the period when the College came into being and needed a dedicated hand on the tiller to see it through rough seas. By virtue of his nature and wisdom, Tom played a considerable part in ensuring that Arthur Findlay’s dream became a reality. I shall truly miss his friendship, but I shall reflect long upon the privilege I had in knowing him.”

It has been my own great privilege to know Tom and Ann well in recent years and to hear many of Tom’s extraordinary experiences from his own lips. His recall of events that took place so many years ago was as clear as crystal, and his integrity and honesty shone brightly, leaving not a shadow of doubt that he spoke the truth.

As the late Professor David Fontana [whose passing we also reportred just a few days ago – Roy] wrote in his introduction to Tom’s 2004 book, Life After Death: Living Proof: “Tom is a man of transparent integrity, with no ambition for personal status or reward.  His only interest in recounting the experiences he had with his home circle is to share with us the total conviction these experiences have given him of the reality of life after death. This conviction has left him with a deep humility and a spiritual presence that endears him to all those who meet him.”

There is no doubt that Tom will have made a swift and easy transition to the next world, for if ever there was one who knew where he was headed, it was Tom. It goes without saying that he will have been met by a joyous company of loved ones and friends, all eager to welcome home a true pioneer of spirit.


Watch Tom on video

My thanks to Sue for a wonderful tribute to a remarkable man. My thanks, too, to the visitor to this site who provided a link to an hour long video on Tom being interviewed about his mother’s mediumship and his knowledge of spirit communication. You can view that video here.

Sally Morgan: psychic superstar

Sally Morgan on stageI’ve watched her on television and been impressed. I’ve read in the media about her celebrity clients – from Princess Diana to George Michael. So the chance to see Sally Morgan demonstrating her mediumship at the Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, earlier this week was an opportunity I was not going to miss.

Watching mediums on TV can be far from convincing, as I have said before. Are we just seeing edited highlights? How much is contrived or controlled by the production team. Or – dare I say it – are the people who get messages already known to the medium or the team?

As viewers, we have no way of knowing. But with a live show it should be much easier to determine how real it is. Certainly, as far as Sally Morgan’s show was concerned, I have no doubt that it was exactly as it was presented: a medium on the stage conveying spirit messages to people who were complete strangers. A medium, I suggest, who well deserves the description “psychic superstar”. Now much slimmer, following a gastric bypass operation, she was even greeted by wolf whistles when she first took to the stage.

I am sure that almost every member of the capacity audience in the 1,380-seater Alexandra Theatre was hoping to receive a message, in which case the majority were disappointed. But they were all, undoubtedly, entertained.

Sally Morgan has a down-to-earth, bubbly personality and superb presentation, so that even when listening to someone else receiving a message you are mesmerised by her ability and the drama of the event. She squeals with delight when people respond enthusiastically, empathises with those who are reduced to tears by what she tells them, and sometimes gets carried away by the anguish or emotion that she is being asked to convey.

Were they gullible?

The audience, of course, were adoring fans and video images of the lucky ones who received messages were beamed onto a large screen behind the medium as they answered her questions or responded to her statements through microphones that had been passed to them.

Even though they were fans, they did not appear to be gullible. They made it clear when something she told them was incorrect. There were times, too, when two or three people in the audience could accept Sally’s statements about a communicator. In those cases, she soon managed to identify the correct recipient – though she sometimes came back to the “rejects” and gave them some meaningful evidence, too.

The length of the queue that formed outside the theatre at the end of the show, snaking around into two side streets in order to have Sally sign their programmes or tickets, was an indicator of her success. My guess was at least 400 audience members wanted the opportunity to spend just a few seconds with her.

That’s an incredible achievement for a self-developed medium who has never worked in Spiritualist churches and has never received a spirit message from another medium. Yet she has been packing theatres around the country while on tour for the past three years.

When I spoke to Sally Morgan a couple of days after her appearance in Birmingham, she explained that she does not follow Spiritualism as a religion but believes she was put on earth with the purpose of making people aware of survival of death and the spirit world. Even so, her glossy programme devotes an entire page to the history of Spiritualism.

How good was the evidence?

So, how evidential were the messages that the Birmingham audience received? The majority seemed to be comforted and impressed with the accuracy and relevance of what she told them. And I was able to talk with one of the recipients after the show.

Littlehampton lighthouseRoss Berkeley Simpson, a director, teacher and writer who is also a songwriter, along with a couple of other audience members, responded when Sally talked about a man named Arthur and a lighthouse, which she subsequently described as “some kind of tower by the sea” which was very peaceful and Arthur was there.

“My grandfather, Arthur, lived in Bognor Regis,” Ross told me, “and we all used to go with him to Littlehampton Pier and the beach, and there’s a tall red-and-white coastguard tower there. The penultimate time I saw my grandfather was there: he was walking on the pier and I was on the beach, and that place has always been magical for me. So I was pretty well satisfied that the message was for me.”

At the time of receiving the message, Ross’ first recollection was of the coastguard building at Littlehampton, West Sussex, but having since seen a photograph of a nearby lighthouse that stands close to the pier, he has realised that Sally description (or his grandfather’s) was incredibly accurate. (Photo of Littlehampton Lighthouse, located on the East Pier, contributed by Paul Gillett).

What clinched it for Ross was Sally’s next statement as she peered up at him in the circle.  Sally asked him what it was she had said that had made him respond and he explained about his grandfather.

Sally did not dwell on that. Instead, she said without any preamble, “I just have to tell you … you’re not expecting this, what I’m going to say to you, but there’s a man who took his own life standing here.”

Ross acknowledged this. “Oh my God, oh my God,” Sally continued, her voice sounding anxious. “Do you live at number 60?” Ross shook his head and said “No”.

“60, 60, 60!” Sally repeated, insistently, adding, “I’ll tell you what I’m hearing. It isn’t nice. It’s not going to make you laugh. It’s like someone’s saying, ‘Swinging 60s’ but … did he hang himself?”

“Yes he did,” Ross replied.

“I mean, he’s trying to make a joke of it! It isn’t funny!! He’s swinging.”

Sally then asked Ross who Alex and Pop were, making the motion of popping something into her mouth at the same time. These names and actions meant nothing to him but another audience member said she recognised them. Sally indicated that she would move onto this lady but said, “Let me just finish with this gentleman. Listen to me on this. That gentleman who took his life … that young man … he’s very proud of what you have been doing recently. You help others and I don’t know whether you’re involved with, er, like some kind of adventure camp…”

Ross: “Yes”

Sally: “Are You?”

Ross with workshop kidsRoss: “Kind of, yes. It’s something I was involved with him – years ago – we were in a drama workshop and I now run the workshop we were in.”

Sally: “He is so proud. Isn’t that amazing? (The audience claps). He is so proud that you are now running it. You are incredibly adventurous in how you see your work and how you teach and how you help youngsters, disadvantaged youngsters. You’re a very, very good man. He stands here … let’s thank this man.” (More applause).

Ross is the director of First Act Workshops which develops the confidence and acting talent of young people (between eight and 18 years old) in the West Midlands by taking them through specialised television, radio and theatre courses and general acting training. He is pictured (right) with some of the youngsters during a recent course.

Sally then turned her attention to the other member of the audience in the stalls who had recognised Alex and Pop, asking her if she knew a Lillian. She said her mother had a friend named Lillian. “And do you know if Lillian had cancer of her right breast?” She didn’t. But Ross called out: “I know a Lillian who had breast cancer.”

Later, he told me that Lillian was his lovely singing teacher 10 years ago who had had breast cancer but was in remission when he met her. Then the cancer returned and she died very quickly.

Ross noted that Sally had begun by referring to the person who had hanged himself as “a gentleman” but later corrected this to “young gentleman” – a subtle difference that the audience would probably not have noticed but it was important to Ross because they were both in their mid teens when the suicide occurred.

Ross told me that the young man had contacted him through four different mediums, one of whom had said it was alright to tell his Mum about the spirit message, while another had said there was no need to do so, as she would find out. The boy, however, seems to be persisting in making his presence known from the Other Side, though Ross is still nervous about upsetting his mother by revealing his identity in print or approaching her with the information.

It’s a quandary that many people must find themselves in.

“My close friend Margaret died on the 15th September, also from cancer of the right breast. That’s why I went to see Sally, to be honest. Four or five years before she died, Margaret gave me a £20 theatre voucher, which I’d never been able to use. A week after she died I walked into the Alexander Theatre and asked if I could use it to see Sally Morgan. The girl in the ticket office said I could, but the show was sold out. Despite her insistence that she had never experienced many returns for a Sally Morgan show, Ross left his phone number, just in case.

“As I walked out, I felt sure that, against the odds I would get into the show and I would also get a message from Sally Morgan. I had only walked as far as New Street when my phone went and it was the girl in the ticket office. ‘Come and get your ticket,’ she said, ‘I’ve found you one’.”

Sally Morgan