Category Archives: Spiritualism

Ownership of Psychic News assets under review

I am pleased to report some progress in the ongoing saga of Psychic News‘ demise. At a meeting of creditors of Psychic Press (1995) Ltd, held in London on 15 November, Patricia Marsh and Clive Hammond of Marsh Hammond & Partners were appointed joint liquidators of the company that published the weekly Spiritualist newspaper. As a result of discussions that took place at that meeting, the following statement has been issued, under the heading “Asset realisations”:

The Spiritual Truth Foundation (STF) and the Spiritualists’ National Union (SNU) have agreed to discuss the identity and the ownership of the disputed assets with the Joint Liquidators and further updates will be provided in due course.”

Regular visitors to my blog will know that it is the STF’s contention, as the previous owner of Psychic News (PN), that the publication was given to the SNU in 1995 as a total package so that PN could continue to exist as an independent newspaper. It ceased publication earlier this year when the SNU declared it could not support its continued publication.

However, when an offer to purchase Psychic News was made, the SNU insisted that the publication’s title and other assets belonged to the union and were not on offer to potential buyers. No explanation has been offered as to why it would want to claim and retain these assets.

Naturally, I will keep you informed of developments, as and when they happen.

Spiritualism’s elder statesman tells all

Eric Hatton with biographyEarlier today I was honoured to participate in the launch of Taking Up The Challenge, the biography of one of Spiritualism’s elder statesmen, 84-year-old Eric Hatton, whom I have always held in the highest esteem. Working with Susan Farrow, the former editor of Psychic News, Eric has at last found time in his busy life to record his Spiritualist experiences and share them with others. I was delighted to be asked to write a foreword to the book and was equally pleased to be invited to speak briefly to those who had congregated at Stourbridge Spiritualist Church, where Eric has been president for many years, for this morning’s book launch. Those of us who have had the opportunity to discuss his experiences with him over the years will know that Eric has been privileged to have sat with the finest mediums, witnessing some astonishing paranormal phenomena in the process.

So it was hardly surprising that well over 100 books were sold in less than an hour and their purchasers queued for Eric to sign them at the launch party. Many, of course, were members of the very active West Midlands Spiritualist church, to which Eric and his wife Heather, who passed in 2007, dedicated so much of their lives. Those attending the event were eager to learn more about the man and his experiences, and Taking Up The Challenge will certainly live up to their expectations.

After all, it is virtually a Who’s Who? of modern Spiritualism. Any UK medium who achieved prominence in the past half-century or more was certainly known to Eric and his book provides fascinating insights into the way they worked and the evidence they provided.

It is, of course, his personal experiences of spirit communication and healing provided by some of Spiritualism’s best known exponents which makes this a must-read book.

Eric Hatton signing booksNotable among these is his account of a séance which he and Heather attended – before they married – with Welsh physical medium Alec Harris. The couple witnessed materialised spirit forms walking out of the curtained “cabinet” in which the entranced Harris was seated and being greeted by their loved ones who not only recognised them but conversed with them.

The finale was extraordinary. A figure in Middle Eastern attire, another dressed as a Red Indian and a third – a small girl who had appeared earlier in the séance – stood side-by-side for all to see. If anyone present had suspicions that the medium was somehow masquerading as any one of these three figures, the possibility was quickly dispelled when the curtain was lifted to reveal the entranced medium still inside the curtained-off area in which he had taken a seat at the very beginning.

The experience had an enormous impact on Eric and Heather “to the point of bewilderment”.  He adds: “For me, these remarkable revelations not only equalled but surpassed those long ago recorded events of biblical times” – a reference to intriguing biblical passages that also seem to record the physical return of various dead people, such as Moses and Elijah, and most of all Jesus who appeared to his disciples, apparently in physical form, after his crucifixion.

It is just one of many outstanding proofs of survival of death which Eric shares with us, woven into the fabric of his life story which also embraces his business enterprise and his work for Spiritualism at a national as well as a local level: having served as vice-president and then president of the Spiritualists’ National Union (SNU), he is now its honorary president.

Among the anecdotes he shares with us is the story behind his resignation as the SNU president after four years in that office. He tells us enough to make us aware how difficult it could be to preside over often heated National Executive Committee meetings, and one particular occasion that proved to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. But ever the gentleman, Hatton doesn’t take sides or put blame on one person in particular.

Roy Stemman, Eric Hatton and Susan FarrowIn my foreword to the book (I am pictured, left, with Eric and his editorial collaborator Susan Farrow), I make the point that some of the mediumistic events Eric shares with us are so extraordinary “that many readers may doubt his testimony, and even his sanity. But not those who know him.”

Eric is, I add, “careful, cautious and considered [and] would be the perfect witness in a court of law”.

I have no doubt that reading this book could change the lives of some of its readers, just as the experiences described changed and inspired a life of dedicated service by its author.

Eric Hatton is, without a doubt, a remarkable man who not only preaches Spiritualism but lives it.

Photo credit: Danny Lee

Spiritualist actor makes TV history

William RoacheCongratulations to William Roache, the actor who has starred in Britain’s longest-running television drama – Coronation Street – since the very first episode. Tonight, he is on our screens just as he has been throughout the past 50 years, playing the part of Ken Barlow, except that for the golden anniversary edition he and his colleagues will be acting live – just as they did when the soap opera was first televised.

What makes Roache special, as far as I am concerned, is that off screen he is a dedicated Spiritualist who readily talks to the media about his interests and beliefs. Not in the sensational, superficial, headline-grabbing way that some celebrities do, but in a very matter-of-fact way.

Even the title of his 2007 autobiography, Soul On The Street, put the emphasis on the spiritual aspects of his life. In it he praises mediums and tells of his strong belief in an after-life, and in a memorable passage he says, “Death can be likened to walking out of a smoke-filled room into the fresh air”.

Soul On The Street coverWe leave this world, he explains, to return to the spirit realms – “our real home” – adding, “When someone dies, there’s no need to worry about them. They’ve gone home. They’ve finished their toil, their time at school. They’re being released – early maybe because they have done a good job.”

It’s a philosophy that has helped him cope with the loss of his daughter, Edwina, who died in 1984 aged just 18 months, and just a year ago his second wife, Sara, died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart condition. “I miss her,” he told Daily Telegraph writer Vicki Power, “but I know she’s fine and I also know that whatever’s happened is meant to be.”

The writer continued: “Roache’s belief system, which he talks about with great fervour and unselfconsciousness, involves concepts of reincarnation, raising one’s consciousness and ‘personal evolvement’, as he puts it.

“‘It’s not about beliefs, it’s about knowing,’ he says firmly, but concedes that most people will find it odd. ‘People think you’re a bit nutty. I don’t mind that. I’m not out to preach, convert or impress anybody. But when people come and ask me, I’m ready with an answer.’ He says his Spiritualism makes him kinder, healthier and happier and, when you meet him, it’s hard to argue.”

Roache has given talks on his Spiritualist beliefs at the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain in London, the Arthur Findlay College in Essex, and at the centenary celebration of Foleshill Spiritualist Church, Coventry.

Now 78 years old, but looking much younger, William Roache has entertained Britain for half a century in his role as Ken Barlow, the longest-serving actor in the world’s longest-running soap opera (not a term he likes, incidentally).

His fictional character has been married four times, widowed twice, divorced once, fathered four children and adopted his third wife’s daughter. He has been a teacher, a newspaper editor, a communist activist and a supermarket worker. He has also had 27 girlfriends, including Joanna Lumley and Stephanie Beacham. Not bad for someone who is often described as “boring” compared with some of the TV serial’s more colourful characters.

William Roache, MBE, has every right to be proud of his remarkable acting achievement, but I suspect he may be even prouder of the fact that, as a result of being in the public eye, he has been able to open many minds to the greater spiritual realities that lie beyond ITV1’s Coronation Street.

Spirit of Psychic News rises from ashes

Sue FarrowI have good news for all of you who, like me, are missing Psychic News and its weekly update on Spiritualism. The team who did such an excellent job of producing the newspaper were made redundant in the summer. Now three of them have got together to launch a website that they have called, aptly, “The Spirit of PN”. Susan Farrow, former editor, Paul Brett, assistant editor, and Magnus Smith, researcher and assistant, are the brains behind the venture.

It is free to subscribers and, eventually, will provide opportunities for advertising. As regular visitors to this site will know, I have invited Sue to write about her departure from Psychic News, after it was killed off by the Spiritualists’ National Union in July, as well asking her to pay tribute to veteran Spiritualist Tom Harrison, who was a special friend. I’m delighted that Sue now has her own, independent internet platform on which she can express her views and report on the Movement globally. I wish her and her team every success.

Why not pay a visit  to the Spirit of PN and register as a subscriber to receive regular updates:

By an amusing piece of synchronicity, on the same day I heard that “The Spirit of PN” had launched (today!), I also heard that the SNU applied on 6 October to have the Psychic News banner title registered as a trade mark. You don’t believe me? Then take a look here.

So, whilst the “Spirit of Psychic News” lives on in digital form as an independent voice of Spiritualism, the SNU is trying to snatch the title of the newspaper it killed off, by slapping trademark restrictions on it. Why preserve something they have closed down? I’ve always argued that they were plotting to do something with it and this seems to confirm that suspicion.

Will they get away with it? Not if I and my fellow trustees of the Spiritual Truth Foundation have anything to do with it. We’ll be pointing out to the Intellectual Property Office that the SNU have no right to claim ownership of the title, since it belongs along with other assets to Psychic Press (1995) Ltd, the company it is (again) planning to put into liquidation, this time with the date of 15 November set for the creditors’ meeting.

I’m sure, one day, those at the SNU responsible for making these absurd decisions, which must be costing the Union thousands of pounds, will be held to account.

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.