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

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