Out comes a divination table, covered with letters and the words “yes” and “no”. Beside it is a K2 meter, a small black box decorated with coloured lights, a Mel meter with a digital screen, and a REM pod with a small antenna.
If all this equipment feels slightly unfamiliar, that’s not altogether surprising. It’s all designed, after all, for detecting paranormal activity via electro-magnetic fields.
As the duo sit for a photo shoot inside this 13th century building, the K2’s lights spring into action, flicking orange and red.
“They’re going crazy,” says Chris Morris. This, he says, might well be indicating that a spirit in the room is attempting to let us know they are there.
Chris, who lives in Church Stretton, is one of the founders of Paranormal Friends and lives in Church Stretton. He became interested in the paranormal back in the 70s when working as a trainee chartered surveyor showing people around the now-demolished Rhysnant Hall at Four Crosses in Powys.
“Things happened there which were totally unexplainable,” he adds. “I wish I knew then what I know now as I would have spent a lot more time investigating it. Lots of strange things were happening there.”
He suppressed his curiosity for many years until one day, while sitting with his son in a Lincoln tearoom, something quite out of the ordinary happened.
“We were in a tearoom on Steep Hill right in the centre of the city in a very old building,” he recalls. “We were chatting away, and there was no one around us at all. Then on the next table all the condiments, for no apparent reason tipped over with a really loud with a bang. I did my chartered surveyor thing and was bouncing around on the floor to see if something had caused it. I debunked everything and couldn’t see a reason for it at all.”
Numerous investigations followed and Chris wanted to further satisfy his curiosity for the paranormal. He set up the group, through which he met 47-year-old medium Adam Millward.
“I am an open-minded sceptic,” he adds. “Typically 95 per cent of the paranormal can be explained away, and with my background as a chartered surveyor I have an analytical mind.
“But it’s those five per cent of things you can’t explain that keeps me hooked. I’m not preaching to anybody and I’m not saying that anything is life beyond the grave. I don’t know and nobody absolutely knows. All we do know is that there is some form of energy that reacts with our equipment.
“We don’t know if it’s the deceased, which most people believe it is, but the truth is we don’t know, and that’s what we are trying to find out. One day we are going to get a definitive answer. Science hasn’t disproved any of this. We know something is happening but we don’t know exactly what. We saw a little bit of it today and we weren’t even looking for it, that was a bit special for me.” Adam, who lives in Bridgnorth, is a support worker for adults with learning disabilities, and was raised with an interest in the paranormal.
“My mum was a medium, as was her mother before her,” he says. “As a kid I was bought up in a house where there were readings and seances. I have witnessed things flying around the rooms and have been woken up by an apparition standing at the bottom of my bed. I have always had a close link to it all.
“My first memory was sitting on the settee in the front room during a reading and there was a glass that flew past my ear and smashed on the wall. I was told to go to bed. As a kid it was sort of terrifying, but I started to get used to it.”
After joining Paranormal Friends Adam joined Chris and his team on investigations, mainly focusing on Shropshire, but also taking in some of the surrounding areas.
The investigation which really sticks in the memory was at the Sleap Airfield museum and buildings, just outside of Shrewsbury.
“There was a bit of activity there straight away and we got our normal meters out and they were flickering,” says Adam. “I got this sense that something wanted to come out. I left the group and had a little walk and started speaking out to the spirit, asking for a name. A name was whispered down my name it was Eric.”
Chris went out to investigate a memorial plaque outside and halfway down the list there was a Flight Sergeant Eric Young.
“When Chris came back in and said the full name that was it,” says Adam. “It was incredible. It was like Blackpool illuminations, all our equipment was lighting up.”
Chris did a bit of research after and found he had been radio operator at the airfield in the 1940s.
“There were two air crashes at Sleap within a fortnight of each other and eight people were killed,” he says. “Eric Young was one of these people. We honestly believe we communicated with him.”
Adam got more than just a sense of the presence.
“He was burned, I could see him,” he says. “I could feel the pain of his suffering and the heat from the fire.”
The duo have agreed to meet at Whittington Castle in part because of its own paranormal past.
Chris says he has seen tables move, shadows and using the divination table has allowed him to communicate with the spirit world, while Adam has seen various apparitions.
“I once had a strong presence,” says Adam. “It was a man, he wasn’t very big, but he had a lot of power over people. He was trying to intimidate me. He had two guards with him and I felt as if someone was stabbing me in the side. I had to tell him to back off and walk away to calm down.”
Paranormal Friends were the first to carry out an investigation at Halfpenny Green Airport at the end of October after the owners had heard reports of strange goings-on.
They started off in the Second World War hangar.
“Almost from the beginning we were getting activity. Our K2s were going and there were all sorts of noises. We were getting whistles and growls,” says Chris.
On final vigil a lot of the group’s equipment was suddenly drained of battery.
“That is a sure sign a spirit is taking energy away from the batteries. There’s no other explanation for it, really,” said Chris.
“In the final vigil opposite me in the circle was a lady. The person next to me said ‘that lady opposite, I can’t see her head’. I hadn’t noticed, but they were right – you couldn’t see her head to her shoulders, yet everyone else was completely visible. She was still there and could speak, you just couldn’t see her and Adam picked up a spirit behind her.”
Chris and Adam are both keen to stress they aren’t out to try and convince anybody of the presence of the paranormal, and admit that some of the things they have seen may be difficult to believe.
“It sounds crazy, you have to see it to understand it,” says Chris. “Whatever it is all revolves around electro-magnetic energy. Science tells us that energy cannot be created or destroyed. We’ve all got a life energy. When we depart, tell me what happens to that life energy? Something has to happen to that. No-one can tell us where that goes.”
Chris says that often their success with contact spirits is down to the manner in which they carry out investigations.
“We can’t dictate to the spirits, we have to show love and respect,” he said. “It is so sincere what we try to do. We have to create the right atmosphere to encourage them to come forward and share their stories. If they don’t feel comfortable then they won’t come forward.”
Adam added: “It’s the same as real life, you want to hang around with someone you get on with and can have a laugh with.
“It’s an incredible experience making contact.”